Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu
Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu

Amid rising cases of COVID-19 in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday ordered massive statewide restrictions with closure of educational institutions till March 31 and restrictions on cinema and mall capacities.

Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said in order to contain the spread of the virus, colleges, schools will remain closed and night curfew will be announced in 11 districts where cases rising.

"CM-level COVID-19 review meeting happened yesterday. Night curfew from 9 pm to be announced in 11 districts where cases rising. To contain the spread, colleges, schools to be closed, only medical colleges to remain open," Balbir Singh Sidhu was quoted as saying by ANI.

In a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 infection, the Punjab government announced that cinema halls will operate at 50% capacity and not more than 100 persons will be allowed in a mall at any time.

The state government also said from next week one hour of silence to be observed in the state every Saturday. "Cinema halls to operate at 50% capacity and not more than 100 persons in a mall at any time. From next week, one hour of silence to be observed in the state every Saturday, 11 am-12 noon, for those who lost their lives to Covid, with no vehicle to ply at this time," Punjab government officials were quoted as saying by ANI.

The 11 worst affected districts are Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Mohali, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, SBS Nagar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar and Moga.

In these districts, which will remain under night curfew from 9 pm. to 5 am, the Punjab government ordered cinemas, multiplexes, restaurants, malls, etc., to remain closed on Sundays, though home deliveries will be allowed subject to night curfew.

Meanwhile, the Ludhiana district administration has imposed a night curfew between 9 pm to 5 am for an indefinite period. "We have imposed night curfew between 9 pm to 5 am till indefinite period. We will do a review later but now it is for an indefinite period. Night curfews are intended to discourage unnecessary gatherings at night," Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner, Varinder Sharma, told news agency ANI.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday announced a two-hour extension in the night curfew in the state's nine worst-affected districts. Amarinder Singh said the coronavirus situation in the state is critical and warned people of stringent measures if they didn't follow COVID protocols.

The night curfew will be in place from 9 pm to 5 am, instead of 11 pm to 5 am, in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Mohali, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Rupnagar, the chief minister said while addressing a press conference.

India has reported 39,726 fresh COVID-19 cases, 20,654 recoveries and 154 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the Union Health Ministry on Friday. As many as 3,93,39,817 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered till 8 am on Friday in what is billed as the largest vaccination drive in the world.

(With inputs from ANI and IANS)

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