New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Punjab government on Friday announced that all government employees who have not even taken the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine due to any reason, other than medical, will be compulsorily sent on leave after September 15.

This strong measure, an official statement said, was announced by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to protect the people of the state from the disease and to ensure that those who are vaccinated do not have to pay the price for continued vaccine hesitancy of those who are not.

"Special efforts were taken to reach out to government employees, and those who continue to avoid getting vaccinated will now be asked to go on leave till they get the first dose", the CM said.

In another decision taken in view of the upcoming festival season, Singh ordered extension of the existing Covid restrictions till September 30, with a limit of 300 on all gatherings, including political, and strict enforcement of wearing of masks as well as social distancing. Earlier, the number of people allowed for indoor gatherings was 150 and outdoors was 300.

Singh also made it mandatory for organisers, including political parties, to ensure that participants, management and staff at food stalls, etc. in festival-related events are fully vaccinated or at least have had a single dose.

The CM also allowed teaching and non-teaching school staff who had taken at least one dose of vaccine more than four weeks ago to resume duties, subject to submission of weekly RT PCR negative test reports. However, all those with co-morbidities shall only be allowed once they are fully vaccinated, he added.

Meanwhile, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Sidhu suggested a gap for the second dose to be reduced for the school staff to 28 days, but Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan informed the meeting that the Centre had rejected the state's request to allow them to be treated as essential services. Singh noted with satisfaction that with aggressive testing, the situation in schools had remained under control.

Noting that the state had already vaccinated more than 57 per cent of the eligible population, with the first dose administered to 1.18 crore and second to 37.81 lakh people, Singh ordered further intensification of the vaccination drive. The chief minister directed the Department of Social Security to prepare to open Anganwadi centres within this month.

(With agency inputs)

Posted By: Mallika Mehzabeen