Chandigarh, May 2:

Shops in Punjab will open in the green and orange zones, across districts, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning tomorrow, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh announced on Saturday. There would be however, no relaxations in red and containment zones.

The decision to change the timings from the current 7-11 a.m. has been taken in response to requests from people in various districts to open the shops after 9 a.m., said the Chief Minister, adding that the convenience of the people had been kept in mind in making the change.

The issue also came up for discussion during the Cabinet meeting, and there was consensus that the timings should be changed in public interest, said an official spokesperson.

Captain Amarinder has asked the Chief Secretary to issue the necessary directives to the DCs to notify the change.

Continuing with his policy of `relief with strictness,” Captain Amarinder, however, made it clear that anyone found venturing out of their homes for essentials etc without wearing a mask would be strictly dealt with. He said he had issued strict directives to the police department to challan anyone see outside without a mask. The relaxations come with strict protocols, which the people need to follow, said the Chief Minister, adding that the relief had been provided to make life easier for the people and not to come out unnecessarily.

Captain Amarinder has also directed the police to come down heavily on those found violating the curfew restrictions or otherwise disrupting the state’s law and order. “We will not tolerate such actions,” he warned, adding that no laxity would be allowed in this regard, with Section 144 also strictly in place.

The Chief Minister also made it clear that his government would make all possible arrangements to bring back its people from other states, and to facilitate those stranded in Punjab, including migrant labourers, to return to their homes. His government was working in close coordination with other states on this issue, and he had also requested the central government to arrange special trains, which would be done after a few days as the Railways were currently managing the transportation of migrants from the south of India, he added.