Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and many of his Cabinet ministers attended the first day of the shortened two-day budget session of the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday without wearing face masks, The Times of India reported. The state government had ordered that any person who ventured out without wearing a mask will be fined Rs 1,000 in urban areas, and Rs 500 in rural areas.

Sixty-six year old minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy and most MLAs of the Opposition Telugu Desam Party wore masks. However, most of them wore N95 masks, which are prescribed only for healthcare workers.

The Andhra Pradesh Health Department had undertaken sanitisation of the Assembly premises over the last two days. Coronavirus testing was carried out on MLAs who had not been screened in their districts. Special seating arrangements were made in the House to ensure physical distancing, the Hindustan Times reported.

Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan addressed the members of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council through videoconferencing from his residence at the Raj Bhavan in Vijayawada. The members of the Upper and Lower House sat in their respective halls instead of in the same room, as was the custom during budget sessions in previous years.

Harichandran said in his speech that the state government is committed to the decentralisation of administration so as to ensure uniform development of all the regions. He added that the executive capital of the state will be shifted to Visakhapatnam, while Amaravati will be retained as legislative capital and Kurnool would be made the judicial capital. “At present, the three capitals bill is pending in the legislative process,” he said. “I am confident that the bill would be approved soon.”

The governor said that the Gross Domestic Product growth rate of Andhra Pradesh in 2019-’20 stood at 8.16%, much higher than the 5% recorded at the national level. He also said that the state government was taking stringent measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 by increasing testing.

Andhra Pradesh has reported 6,456 cases of the coronavirus so far, including 88 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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