Schools, colleges to remain closed; ‘Block Divas’ to resume in J&K

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Cap on gatherings stays at 25, order being violated brazenly

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Aug 22: The Government today ordered that all schools and higher educational institutions including coaching centres will remain closed in Jammu and Kashmir till further orders but the ‘Block Divas’ will resume in all districts subject to ceiling of 25 persons only with due compliance of COVID Appropriate Behaviour.
“All schools and higher educational institutions including coaching centres shall continue to remain closed for onsite/in-person teaching till further order. However, the educational institutions are permitted to seek personal attendance of vaccinated staff for administrative purposes. Government shall consider phased re-opening of institutions where 100 percent vaccination of staff and students has been achieved,” an order issued today by Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta in his capacity as the State Executive Committee (SEC) chairperson, said.
It added that maximum number of persons permitted to attend any indoor/outdoor gathering will remain restricted to 25.
Though the Government order said that the District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police will ensure strict compliance of the cap on gathering, sources said the guideline is being violated by all hoteliers and marriage halls with impunity as there was no check on the functions.
“Gatherings of 150 to 200 or even more have become common in hotels and marriage halls without any check by civil or police administration,” sources said.
The Government order further said that the ‘Block Divas’ will resume in all districts subject to the ceiling of 25 persons and compliance of COVID Appropriate Behaviour.
“Necessary modifications in conduct of the Block Divas may accordingly be made by all District Magistrates,” the order said.
While there will be no weekend curfew in any district, the SEC order said night curfew will continue to remain in force in all districts from 8 pm to 7 am.
All Deputy Commissioners have been also asked to focus on the positivity rates of the medical-blocks under their jurisdictions.
“Intensified measures, related to COVID management and restriction of activities, shall be undertaken by the DCs in these Blocks,” the order read, adding, “There shall be renewed focus on Panchayat level mapping of cases and micro-containment zones shall be constituted wherever unusual spike of cases is noticed.”
The State Executive Committee has asked the Deputy Commissioners to keep active track of the positivity rates in the blocks and consider implementing stricter control measures in closed clustered spaces like public and private Offices, Community halls, Malls, Bazaars etc, in case weekly positivity rate goes beyond 4 percent in these Blocks.
“The three – “T” protocol of testing, tracking and treating, besides vaccination, needs to be strengthened in these Blocks. The proportion of RT-PCR tests in the total mix should be scaled up, on best effort basis, to 70% or more, excluding travellers,” the State Executive Committee said.
The District Magistrates, as per the order, shall strictly ensure that there is full compliance to COVID Appropriate Behaviour and defaulters are firmly dealt with under relevant Sections of the Disaster Management Act and the Indian Penal Code. “The District Magistrates shall constitute joint teams of Police and Executive Magistrates for enforcement of COVID Appropriate Behaviour.”
The State Executive Committee directed for intensive vaccination drive in all districts to ensure timely administration of second doze besides maximizing first dose to vulnerable groups.
“Positive cases detected as a result of intensive testing need to be isolated/quarantined at the earliest and their contacts should also be traced,” the SEC order said and called for immediate isolation and treatment of COVID-19 patients in treatment facilities, hospitals and houses.