No new Covid curbs on New Year Eve in Himachal Pradesh: Thakur

There is no plan to impose Covid restrictions on New Year Eve in Himachal Pradesh, said Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Thursday.

“As of now Covid cases are under control. We’ll review the situation in the first week of January,” Thakur told The Indian Express. He was here to attend the Chief Ministers’ pre-budget meeting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally on December 27 to mark four years of the Jai Ram Thakur government, the hill state had reported first Omicron case. “That patient has recovered,” said the CM.

Asked if tourism is a consideration behind delaying the curbs, especially when many other BJP-ruled states had announced night curfew, he said, “Our economy is based on tourism, and Covid has hit our economy very hard. Hoteliers’ association had requested for a breather. We had told them to observe Covid-appropriate behaviour. In fact, our stress has been on Covid-appropriate behaviour for everyone everywhere, be it state residents or tourists, be it inside or outside hotels. Even waiters are taking all precautions.”

The CM took pride in the fact that Himachal has been first in the country in administering both first and second dose of vaccine to the eligible population. “Now we are ready to roll out vaccination for the 15-18 year age group,” he said.

Spared twice — first when chief ministers of other BJP-ruled states, including Gujarat and Uttarakhand, were changed to buck anti-incumbency and then after recent dismal bypoll results in which the party lost all four seats, one parliamentary and three Assembly, in Himachal — Thakur has an uphill task: to retain power. He acknowledges the fact that since 1985, no party has been able to come back to power in the state. “This is my last year in office and I’ll try to do my best,” he said.

The CM, who had campaigned in Chandigarh civic polls, found the results surprising: AAP 14, BJP 12, Congress eight and SAD one. Claiming that elected councillors are trying to defect to the BJP, he did not dismiss the possibility of the AAP making inroads into the hilly state. “Much will depend on Punjab Assembly election results. If they do well there, they will try to do well in Himachal as well,” he said.

96,200 in HP to get precautionary dose

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh, which became the “first” to achieve 100 per cent double vaccination for its entire eligible population, will be vaccinating 3,57,450 beneficiaries children in the age group of 15 to 18 years at 2,797 government schools.

Health Secretary Amitabh Awasthi, who chaired the state task force committee meeting for Covid-19 vaccination in Shimla, said the precautionary dose for Health Care Workers (HCWs), Front Line Workers (FLWs) and those who are 60 years and above with comorbidities, would be provided from January 10, 2022. As many as 96,200 eligible candidates would be vaccinated with the precautionary dose, which would include 32,663 HCWs, 61,431 FLWs and 10,530 senior citizens.

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