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Representative Image
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Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led Bihar Cabinet on Tuesday decided to provide an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh each to the next of kin of those who succumbed to COVID-19 in the state, news agency ANI reported.

Meanwhile, the Bihar government on Tuesday also announced that over a month-long COVID-induced lockdown will be lifted from Wednesday though night curfew, restrictions on public gatherings and curtailed business timings will remain in place.

The decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the high-powered crisis management group chaired by the Chief Minister.

Kumar shared a gist of the relaxations that will be made in the first week of unlock but cautioned people against being carried away, with the remark, "there is need to avoid crowding even now".

The state was placed under lockdown on May 5, while the second wave was wreaking devastation and the active caseload had crossed one lakh, a more than 50 times increase since the beginning of April.

Though relatively less severely affected by the pandemic last year, Bihar was hit hard by the latest wave which left over half a million of its people infected and claimed more than 4,000 lives, the deceased including many luminaries from all walks of life.

The lockdown, however, appears to have broken the chain of infection and less than 1,000 people were catching the contagion every day, causing the recovery rate to cross 98 per cent and the number of active cases to plunge below 10,000.

As per the guidelines issued by the home department, effective from June 9-15, private vehicles would not need passes to hit the streets unless these were to ply after 7 P.M and after 5 A.M. when night curfew will be in force.

Shopkeepers can take it easy with the business hours being changed to 8 A.M.-5 P.M.

Earlier, shops were allowed to open at 6 A.M. with orders to down the shutters by 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

However, shops other than those dealing in grocery, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat and fish will still have to abide by the "alternate day" system with authority vested in District Magistrates to draw the roster for different categories of commercial establishments.

Religious places will remain closed for common public while restaurants shall continue to function with old restrictions which entail no dining in, but home delivery and take away being allowed.

Schools, colleges, universities and coaching institutes might resume online teaching but shall not be holding any examinations.

Government offices, which have been functioning with 25 per cent attendance, can now do so with 50 per cent of staff strength.

Private offices will be allowed to reopen with the same conditions. Both private and government offices will have to wind up by 4 P.M. daily.

Shopping malls, cinema halls, gyms and parks will remain closed.

Wedding ceremonies may be conducted, with three days prior notice to the police station concerned, though not more than 20 people will be allowed to gather and "baraat" processions and DJ music will not be permitted as earlier.

Funerals may be attended by a maximum of 20 people.

The guidelines have made it clear that wearing of masks by all those venturing out, be they pedestrians or those travelling by cars, scooters and motorcycles, shall be mandatory and non-adherence shall invite punitive action.

District Magistrates have been instructed to clamp prohibitory orders by invoking Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code for enforcement of the restrictions.

Flouting of any of the restrictions in place during unlock would invite action under the Disaster Management Act and IPC Section 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by public servant).

(With PTI inputs)

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