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COVID-19 | People in Odisha move out of urban areas after govt order against public gatherings

With little work to do, many are choosing to return to villages

BHUBANESWAR: A day after the Odisha government imposed stricter restrictions on gatherings at public places to prevent spread of COVID-19 in the State, lakhs of people from different urban centres have started returning to their respective villages.

A government notification says that no congregation of more than seven people is allowed at any place.

The government had ordered shutting down of all standalone restaurants, bars, coffee shops, canteens, eateries of all kinds where large numbers of people dine and congregate.

The hotels were directed to maintain a social distance of two metres among guests in their in-house restaurants.

Following the government’s order of odd-even formula for public transport system in urban areas to reduce movement of passengers, roads are wearing a deserted look. District administrations have also started to adopt odd-even formula to discourage people to come out.

Moreover, all shops except vegetables, groceries, meat, chicken and fish-vending outlets have been asked to remain shut. People employed in hotels, small businesses and construction sectors have no other option but to return to villages.

“Without any job, it will be hard to sustain oneself in the towns. Moreover, eateries are closed. The daily commuters to offices and other business establishment cannot do their normal work if they don’t get any food,” said Nikunj Moharana, who is employed in a printing press at Mancheswar Industrial Estate in the city.

“Although hiring a private taxi for travelling back to village is expensive, people prefer it in order to avoid ‘risky’ public transport. We don’t know if public vehicles are sanitised properly,” said Prabodh Rout, who, along with his family, left for Jagatsinghpur on Saturday.

In another attempt to enforce social distancing, the government has cancelled all official meetings except regarding COVID-19. Secretaries can opt for video-conferencing facilities for conducting essential meetings. All official functions including commemorations and garlanding of statues are suspended until further orders.

The government has decided to pay advance three months of pre-matric stipend to 5.5 lakh Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students staying in different hostels and hand them over to their parents. These hotels will remain closed between March 25 and June 15.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 9:27:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/covid-19-people-in-odisha-move-out-of-urban-areas-after-govt-order-against-public-gatherings/article31126318.ece

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