Nepal relaxes lockdown for most economic activities

The Nepal government has decided to relax the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown in a phase-wise manner, allowing most of the economic activities to operate by following certain health protocol including social distancing measures, a Minister said.

The government had enforced nationwide lockdown starting from March 24 to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.

With the lockdown taking huge toll on the Himalayan country’s economy affecting the livelihood of tens of thousands of people, the government was facing growing pressure to reopen the economy gradually.

Finance and Communication Minister and government spokesperson Yubaraj Khatiwada said at a press meeting on Thursday that a cabinet meeting a day earlier decided to reopen most of the economic activities except services and activities where big gathering of people take place.

Last month, the government had allowed partial opening for banking, insurance and cooperative sectors.

Likewise, food and construction industries and construction projects were also reopened partially.

The decision to relax the lockdown has come despite rapid rise in COVID-19 case in the country in the recent days as the number of cases reached 4,614 with 15 deaths.

With most of the sectors opening, public health experts have warned that the COVID-19 situation could aggravate if the social distancing policy was not effectively enforced.

“The government should make the provision of strong monitoring mechanism to ensure that social distance is maintained and necessary precautionary measures are taken by the citizens,” Baburam Marasini, former director of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division under the Department of Health Services, told Xinhua on Thursday.