KATHMANDU, June 5: A cabinet meeting held on Thursday entrusted the COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ishwar Pokharel with the responsibility to prepare a detailed modality to ease the ongoing lockdown enforced earlier to contain the spread of the COVID-19.
The cabinet meeting directed the Pokharel-led Committee to prepare a modality after there was a consensus among cabinet members that the modality of the nationwide lockdown needed revision to make the life of ordinary people easier. The Committee will finalize modality to relax the ongoing lockdown by Sunday after holding further consultations with stakeholders from various sectors, according to a cabinet minister.
Sources said the Pokharel-led Committee has already prepared a 70-day long modality to lift the ongoing lockdown. The modality is currently under discussion at various levels. The modality proposes to partially lift the lockdown after the ongoing lockdown expires on June 14.
This has proposed various five stages of 'loose down' along with the priority sectors to be opened and safety measures to be adopted. Places of mass gatherings such as school, colleges, religious places won’t be opened even as lockdown measures are relaxed.
Nepal enforced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the COVID-19 on March 24. The cases of COVID-19 have witnessed a sharp rise in the country even as the latest extension of the lockdown is set to expire on June 14.
The cabinet meeting came in the wake of increasing numbers of people defying the lockdown enforced by the government. In Kathmandu, small business owners have announced to open their shops for limited hours in the morning starting Thursday. Similarly, businesspersons in Biratnagar, Pokhara, Birgunj, and a number of other towns have announced to open their businesses by adopting necessary precautionary measures.
Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada, who is also the spokesperson of the government, said the cabinet meeting largely dwelled on the regular agenda of different ministries and ways to safely manage those in need to come home from various labor destinations. More than 200 Nepali nationals stranded in Myanmar and United Arab Emirates are arriving in Kathmandu on Friday as a part of the government’s plan to evacuate Nepali nationals living in various countries abroad in distressed conditions.