The Central government on Friday extended the lockdown for a further period of two weeks beyond May 3rd, 2020, according to a Home Ministry orders issued here today.
Ministry of Home Affairs also issued fresh guidelines to be followed in this period based on the risk profiling of the district under which it belongs such as Red (Hot Spots), Green and Orange zones. It has allowed relaxation considerably in green and orange zones. However, Containment zones would be continued to be under complete lockdown without any relaxation.
Following are the important guidelines issued afresh:
- The classification of districts into red, green and orange will be shared with the states concerned on a weekly basis or as and when required. This classification will be based on the number of positive cases reporting, active cases, doubling rate of confirmed cases, the extent of testing and surveillance feedback etc.
- The local authority shall ensure 100% coverage of Aarogya Setu app among the residents of the Containment Zone wherein surveillance protocols would have been intensified with contact tracing, house to house surveillance, home and institutional quarantining of persons based on their risk assessment, and clinical management. Strict perimeter control would need to be ensured, so that there is no movement of people in and out of these Zones, except for medical emergencies, and for maintaining a supply of essential goods and services. No other activity is permitted within the Containment Zones.
- Under the new guidelines, a limited number of activities will remain prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the Zone. These include travel by air, rail, metro and inter-State movement by road; running of schools, colleges, and other educational and training, coaching institutions; hospitality services, including hotels and restaurants; places of large public gatherings, such as cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes etc; social, political, cultural and other kinds of gatherings; and, religious places, places of worship for the public. However, movement of persons by air, rail and road is allowed for select purposes, and for purposes as permitted by MHA.
- The new guidelines also prescribe certain measures for well being and safety of persons. Hence, the movement of individuals, for all non-essential activities, shall remain strictly prohibited between 7 pm to 7 am. Local authorities shall issue orders under appropriate provisions of law, such as prohibitory orders [curfew] under Section 144 of CrPC, for this purpose, and ensure strict compliance. In all zones, persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, shall stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes. Out-Patient Departments (OPDs) and Medical clinics shall be permitted to operate in Red, Orange and Green Zones, with social distancing norms and other safety precautions; however, these will not be permitted within the Containment Zones.
- A large number of other activities are allowed in the Red Zones. All industrial and construction activities in rural areas, including MNREGA, works, food-processing units and brick-kilns are permitted; besides, in rural areas, without distinction to the nature of goods, all shops, except in shopping malls are permitted. All agriculture activities, e.g., sowing, harvesting, procurement and marketing operations in the agricultural supply chain are permitted. Animal husbandry activities are fully permitted, including inland and marine fisheries. All plantation activities are allowed, including their processing and marketing. All health services (including AYUSH) are to remain functional, including transport of medical personnel and patients through air ambulances. A large part of the financial sector remains open, which includes banks, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), insurance and capital market activities, and credit co-operative societies. Operation of homes for children, senior citizens, destitute, women and widows etc.; and operation of Anganwadis have also been permitted. Public utilities, e.g., utilities in power, water, sanitation, waste management, telecommunications and internet will remain open, and courier and postal services will be allowed to operate.
- Most of the commercial and private establishments have been allowed in the Red Zones. These include print and electronic media, IT and IT-enabled services, data and call centres, cold storage and warehousing services, private security and facility management services, and services provided by self-employed persons, except for barbers etc., as mentioned earlier. Manufacturing units of essential goods, including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw material and intermediates; production units, which require continuous process, and their supply chain; Jute industry with staggered shifts and social distancing; and manufacturing of IT hardware and manufacturing units of packaging material will continue to be permitted.
- In the Orange Zones, in addition to activities permitted in Red Zone, taxis and cab aggregators will be permitted with 1 driver and 2 passengers only. Inter-district movement of individuals and vehicles will be allowed for permitted activities only. Four-wheeler vehicles will have a maximum of two passengers besides the driver and pillion riding will be allowed on two-wheelers.
- In the Green Zones, all activities are permitted except the limited number of activities which are prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the Zone. However, buses can operate with up to 50% seating capacity and bus depots can operate with up to 50% capacity.
- All goods traffic is to be permitted. No State/ UT shall stop the movement of cargo for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate pass of any sort is needed for such movement, which is essential for maintaining the supply chain of goods and services across the country during the lockdown period.
- All other activities will be permitted activities, which are not specifically prohibited, or which are permitted with restrictions in the various Zones, under these guidelines. However, States/ UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, and with the primary objective of keeping the spread of COVID-19 in check, may allow only select activities from out of the permitted activities, with such restrictions as felt necessary.
The extension has come in the wake of the decision taken by the cabinet committee based on the opinions expressed by the Chief Ministers during the recent video conference held with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The extension was anticipated in view of the Ramadan festive month that would last up to May 24. Hence, the extension should have been either up to May 25 or May 30th of this month. However, the present extension of just 2 weeks which may last up to May 17 has come as a puzzle for many as to what expectations or plans the government has in store to avoid festival crowd on the streets after May 17.