In a flip-flop amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Punjab government on Monday allowed industrial activity in non-containment areas in line with the Union Home Ministry guidelines.

The U-turn came within a span of 24 hours after it ruled out any relaxation in the curfew till May 3, barring the wheat procurement.

Even on Sunday, the state government had initially allowed industrial units in rural areas; booksellers; dhabas; shops selling air-conditioners, coolers, fans; and those dealing in sand and gravel mining and stone crushing to operate.

But the exemptions were withdrawn in the evening after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reviewed the current situation arising out of the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the latest government order, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday asked the deputy commissioners to facilitate the opening of industrial units in non-containment areas by complying with detailed instructions issued by the state government on April 18.

The Centre in its revised guidelines to states for the containment of Covid-19 has allowed the construction of roads, irrigation projects, buildings, water supply and sanitation and renewable energy projects etc.

All the MHA guidelines and conditions should be strictly complied with by the district administration, said an official release quoting Singh.

Conditions laid down by the state government with regard to the arrangement for the stay, transport and food should be strictly met, along with a meticulous compliance with all health advisories relating to the pandemic, the DCs have been told by the chief minister as per the release.

Amarinder Singh said the state government was deeply concerned about the plight of labourers and the Punjab’s industry, most of which is tiny, micro and small.

The detailed instructions issued on April 18 were in this background and aimed at facilitating the opening of industrial units as permitted under the new MHA guidelines of April 15, said the CM.

The MHA guidelines said bulk passes may be issued for the industrial and other establishments/activities that have been permitted with effect from April 20.

These have been allowed to commence operations with stringent compliance to conditions regarding stay and transport of workers, said a state government release on Sunday.

It further said eleven different categories of industrial establishments have been allowed to operate with the condition that in case the industrial establishment employs 10 or more persons, it shall make arrangements for the stay of workers within its premises as far as possible and/or adjacent buildings.

The transportation of workers to workplace shall be arranged by the employers in dedicated transport by ensuring social distancing.

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