Nepal imposes strict restrictions as virus cases set record | Radio WGN 720

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People line up to receive the vaccine after the Nepalese government made vaccination cards compulsory to access public services in Kathmandu, Nepal, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal’s capital has closed schools, ordered citizens to carry vaccination cards in public, banned religious holidays and asked hotel guests to get tested every three days as he was battling his biggest outbreak of COVID-19.

The chief administrator of the Kathmandu government issued a notice on Friday saying that all people should carry their vaccination card when in public places or shopping in shops.

Nepal, however, has only fully vaccinated 41% of its population. The notice did not specify how unvaccinated people will be able to pay their utility bills or shop.

The government says it has enough vaccines in stock, but a new wave of COVID-19 cases powered by the omicron variant has created long queues at vaccination centers, with many people unable to receive vaccines.

All public gatherings and meetings will be banned and cinemas and theaters will be closed. Gyms, swimming pools and other sports venues will also be closed. No festivals or public religious events will be allowed, the notice said. He did not say how long the restrictions would last.

Authorities have also halted in-person classes at all schools and postponed university exams indefinitely.

Wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing in public will be mandatory. Only 20 customers at a time will be allowed in malls and department stores, and all will need to carry vaccination cards. Employees will be subject to regular antigen testing to be allowed to work.

Restaurants and hotels can stay open, but employees must wear face masks and other protections. Hotel guests must take antigen tests every three days.

The government is also limiting road traffic, with alternate day bans for vehicles with odd or even plates.

The notice says violators will be punished, but did not give details. An existing pandemic law states that offenders can be jailed for a month.

The Health Ministry reported a record 12,338 new cases on Thursday and 11,352 on Wednesday, up from a few hundred daily cases last month.

Nepal experienced full lockdowns in 2020 and again from late April to September 1, 2021.

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