Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday issued fresh guidelines, including adoption of online classes up to college level, and optimal use of virtual mode for conducting official meetings. The decision to this effect was taken by the State Executive Committee (SEC) which met under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary A K Mehta here, retaining the already issued restrictions for Covid containment, including night curfew across the Union territory.
In the order issued Sunday night after a detailed review of the COVID-19 situation, Mehta, who is also the chairperson of SEC, said it was observed that there is a need for additional measures besides continuing with the existing coronavirus containment measures in all districts in view of the uneven trend observed in daily Covid cases as well as rising positivity rate. As regards the education institutions, the order directed all colleges, schools, polytechnics, and coaching centres for civil services, engineering and NEET to adopt online medium of teaching.
There shall be no in-person teaching. Educational institutions shall be permitted to direct attendance of vaccinated staff for administrative purposes only, the order said, adding that the head of the institution must ensure that guidelines related to social distancing and Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) are strictly followed. The order asked all government departments to minimise conduct of in-person meetings or interactions.
All administrative secretaries/Head of the Department(s)/ Institution(s) shall ensure optimal use of virtual mode for conducting official meetings, Mehta said. The order said the night curfew would continue to remain in force in all districts from 9 pm to 6 am with complete restriction on non-essential movement.
However, the SEC reiterates continuation of certain relaxations like restricted gathering with a cap of 25 persons at any indoor or outdoor function, gathering up to 25 vaccinated persons or 25 per cent of the authorised capacity, whichever is less, preferably in open spaces at banquet halls. Cinema halls, theatres, multiplexes, restaurants, clubs, gymnasiums and swimming pools are also permitted to continue their function at 25 per cent of the authorised capacity with due precautions such as CAB and adherence to SOP, the order said.
The SEC directed all deputy commissioners to intensify testing and ensure full utilisation of available RT-PCR and RAT capacities besides constitute teams of district officers to enforce CAB and also ensure no violator is let off. The home secretary would monitor the enforcement of CAB closely and shall submit a report to the chairperson of the State Executive Committee (chief secretary) on daily basis, the order said.
The Health and Medical Education Department was asked to closely monitor all relevant statistics and data in respect of Covid for timely interventions wherever required. Seeking cooperation of the traders, the order asked the market associations to ensure that guidelines related to social distancing and CAB are strictly followed in the markets.
Gathering at shops should not be allowed. Furthermore, no shops will cater to customers without masks, the SEC said. The district magistrates are allowed to create as many micro containment zones as needed and as per situation demand on ground, keeping in view the spike of cases.
The order said all districts of J&K shall intensify efforts to ensure timely administering of the second dose of the Covid vaccination in accordance with the due date for the same. The district magistrates were also asked to take all necessary measures for enforcement of testing protocols and establish and activate their respective Covid war rooms to tackle Variants of Concern/Variants of Interest including B.1.1.529 (Omicron).