Meghalaya would for sometime function in an ‘isolation mode’ once the 21-day nationwide COVID-19 lockdown expires on April 14, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said on April 7.
“Our priority is the health and the safety of the citizens of our state. Therefore, we will relax the economic activities but it will be limited to the people of the state and we will remain closed and will not allow movement of any individuals from outside the state for at least another two weeks,” he said.
Over 80 samples tested at the North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) laboratory for COVID-19 infection have all yielded negative results in Meghalaya.
Interacting with citizens through Facebook on the occasion of World Health Day on April 7, Sangma sought to dispel public concerns on the State’s Cabinet decision to resume of economic activities and functioning of all government offices from April 15.
“Let me assure you that health is going to be the priority of the government. We are not going to take any chance when it comes to the issue of health, especially in this current situation that the state, the country and the world is facing,” the chief minister said.
“But at the same time, we will have to see the economic impact and livelihood issues that are there for the common people. Therefore, the Cabinet decision is to balance health concerns and address economic issues that are being faced by the people,” he added.
“To put it in a nutshell, what we are trying to do is allow Meghalaya to function to some extent in an isolation mode. So, this will be Meghalaya in isolation. Therefore, we may have construction work going on but it will be labourers and people from the state only. No outsiders will be allowed to come in. No inter-state movement will take place,” Sangma said.
He however said there would be some relaxation on inter-district movement of vehicles depending on the ground situation in the next few days, adding that the respective DC’s would work out modalities for movement of essential commodities.
“If we are lucky and if there is no case in our state we should be able to open up the inter-strict movement but inter-state movement will not be allowed at all,” the chief minister stated.
While allowing farmers to resume their farming activities, Sangma said, “There is no question of labourers coming from outside working in the farms”.
“We will be allowing opening of weekly markets in the rural areas so that people can sell their products to each other but there is no question of any trader or person from outside the state, whether from Assam or any other state to come in and be part of these weekly markets. The weekly markets will be limited to the local people and surrounding villages so that at least the daily products can be sold,” he said.
The CM also appealed to the 2,192 residents of the state, including students, who are currently stranded in different parts of the country due to the ongoing lockdown, to remain where they are and enter the state after about two weeks from now.
“We are speaking to them and monitoring them on a regular basis. Of course, we understand they all want to come back home but at the same time we have to take all the safety and precautions that we can to ensure that they are safe, their families are safe and the state and people in general are safe. Therefore, strict protocols will be put into place,” he said in regard to their re-entry into the state.
“Our concern is whether the Central Government will allow functioning of air and railway services about which we don’t yet know. But I would like to take this opportunity to reach out to those students who are in other parts of the country facing difficult times.
Therefore, I urge them in the interest of everybody if they could further delay their entry into the state,” he said.
“We will go into all aspects of testing, isolation, checking the past history and background of those stranded people coming to the state,” he iterated.
On export and import to Bangladesh, the chief minister said, “This is an issue that will be decided by the central government but let us wait and see after April 14 then we will be only to decide that”.