Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh government has decided to maintain a statewide lockdown till March 31 in a bid to prevent o contain the coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic.
Chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy appealed to people to remain indoors till March 31 as social distancing is the best available remedy.
This comes in welcome contrast with his earlier public pronouncement during his government’s confrontation with the State Election Commission, when the CM maintained that the Covid-19 was in an early stage in the state and would pose no risk to conducting local body polls.
Elaborating on the shutdown, the chief minister further announced that inter-state borders would be shut, all public and private transportation would be suspended and only essential establishments like hospitals, medical shops, grocery stores, and petrol pumps would operate.
Supply of all essential commodities, including LPG cylinders, would continue, Reddy assured.
The SSC examinations will however be held as per schedule and so was the case with the budget session of the Assembly.
The CM also announced a cash incentive of Rs 1,000 for each household below poverty line towards compensation for loss of wages during the lockdown.
The amount would be handed over to the families by volunteers on April 4. Each poor household would also be provided with one kilo of red gram, along with free ration, which would reach their doorstep on March 29, he said.
“I know this is not sufficient but we are trying to extend help as much as possible. These additional measures will cost the exchequer Rs 1,500 crore,” CM Reddy said, adding that the lockdown was painful but inevitable.
“We are following remaining states to bring a synergy to country-wide efforts on this front,” he said.
Reddy gave a stern warning to traders against exploiting the crisis by enhancing prices of commodities. District collectors and SPs would release item-wise price lists and it would be their responsibility to ensure traders sell at those prices.
A toll-free number would be advertised for people to lodge complaints of hoarding or excess pricing. “I will not hesitate to send such traders behind bars,” he said.
Maintaining that the government has already issued orders to operate its office with 50 per cent workforce at a time, the CM appealed to all commercial establishments and factories to operate with skeletal staff....