Kathmandu: With the country locked down, people are confused about their freedom of movement. The government has urged them to stay indoors except in ‘emergencies’.
Social media users are requesting the government to clarify lockdown guidelines. Government sources, however, say the guidelines are clearly established in the Essential Services Operation Act, 2014. The Act covers 19 areas under essential services, including transport and storage of goods, supply and distribution of drinking water, services related to hospital, collection of waste, and printing.
The recent government directive states that people can come out only to purchase essential stuff like food and medicine.
Police deployed on the streets have been convincing people who have ventured out to return to their homes. In the event of a violation of the lockdown, people would be subjected to six-month jail or Rs 600 in fines, or both. In Chitwan, police have already arrested over a dozen people for violating the lockdown.
Mentioning Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defense Ishwor Pokhrel, Nepali Congress leader Gagan Thapa tweets, “People seem confused about what they can do and what they cannot—please make that clear immediately. Please tell them how this lockdown helps prevent the spread of coronavirus.”
Speaking to APEX, Nepal Police Spokesperson Shailesh Thapa Kshetri says that if people have to travel in a vehicle, they first need to dial 100, the police hotline, and then visit the District Administration Office to get a pass.
“As far as getting vegetables and medicines in nearby shops and stores are concerned, people you can go outside and buy. But you cannot linger there,” Kshetri says. “If someone is seriously ill, we can arrange for an ambulance or even use our own vehicles to take them to a hospital.” Kshetri says the police have also been informing those who are confused about the lockdown.
In other countries, governments have come up with various guidelines on lockdowns. For instance, the United Kingdom has asked people to leave home only for four reasons: to buy medicine and food, to walk (alone), for children below 18 to meet their parents, and for travel to jobs which cannot be done at home.
Across the world, a lockdown is considered more flexile than a curfew.