In an important decision to allow smooth entry of fully vaccinated persons in the Union Territory, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Sunday decided not to conduct the mandatory COVID-19 test at Lakhanpur, the gateway of J&K, for those who have taken both doses of vaccine.

As per the new COVID guidelines issued by the J&K Government, "At the entry point to UT of J&K at Lakhanpur, mandatory testing for COVID can be dispensed with for those who have received both doses of vaccine provided a reliable and verifiable system can be put in place in consultation with the medical team."

Earlier COVID test was mandatory for all those entering Jammu and Kashmir at the Lakhanpur in Kathua district. Lakhanpur was earlier declared as the red zone by the UT government.

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Higher educational institutions to resume physical classes

The J&K administration also granted permission to higher educational institutions to resume offline classes provided all staff members and students are fully vaccinated, over four months after shutting them owing to the second wave of COVID-19. These decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary A K Mehta.

It was decided to retain most of the COVID-19-containment guidelines, including night curfew, and the district magistrates were directed to strictly ensure that there is full compliance with Covid-appropriate behaviour and defaulters are firmly dealt with under relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act and the Indian Penal Code.

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Schools to remain closed to J&K

However, as per a government order, all schools including coaching centers shall continue to remain closed for onsite and in-person teaching, till further orders.

The government also reiterated that the maximum number of people permitted to attend any indoor/ outdoor gathering shall be strictly restricted to 25. "All District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police shall ensure compliance. There shall be no weekend curfew in any district," reads the order.

"All schools including coaching centers shall continue to remain closed for onsite/in-person teaching, till further orders," the order said.

In a series of measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 infection, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on April 18 had ordered the closure of all educational institutions, including universities and colleges, till further orders.

The order was issued after a detailed review of the COVID-19 situation with a focus on total weekly new cases (per million), total positivity rate, bed occupancy, case fatality rate and vaccination coverage of the targeted population. Mehta, who is also the chairperson of the State Executive Committee (SEC), said all schools and coaching centres would continue to remain closed for onsite or in-person teaching till further orders.

The order said the Deputy Commissioners would keep active track of the positivity rates in blocks and consider implementing stricter control measures in closed clustered spaces like public or private offices, community halls, malls, and bazaars in case the weekly positivity rate goes beyond four percent in these blocks.