Centre extends lockdown till 31 May; lets states decide on various zones and restrictions
17 May 2020
The centre today (17 May) announced an extension of Covid-19 related lockdown till 31 May in order to curb the spread of the pandemic. Lockdown 4.0 will commence from Monday and will last till 31 May, according to a notification issued by the ministry of home affairs.
As per the MHA order, all domestic and international flights, educational institutions and hotels/clubs will continue to remain prohibited from functioning throughout the country. However, the government allowed the inter-state movement of vehicles and buses with mutual consent of states.
“Lockdown measures in place since 24 March 2020 have helped considerably in containing the spread of Covid-19. It has, therefore, been decided to further extend the lockdown till 31 May 2020,” an order issued by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) under the Disaster Management (DM) Act said.
Under the new guidelines, states and union territories (UTs) will now delineate Red, Green and Orange zones taking into consideration the parameters shared by the health ministry. The zones can be a district, or a municipal corporation/municipality or even smaller administrative unit such as sub-divisions, etc as decided by states and UTs.
Within the Red and Orange zones, containment and buffer zones will be demarcated by the local authorities, after taking into consideration the health ministry guidelines.
Within the containment zones, only essential activities shall be allowed. Strict perimeter control shall be maintained, and no movement of persons would be allowed, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining supply of essential goods and services. Buffer zones are areas adjoining each containment zone, where new cases are more likely to appear. In the buffer zones, more caution needs to be exercised.
However, a limited number of activities will continue to remain prohibited throughout the country. These include:
- All domestic and international air travel of passengers, except for domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance and for security purposes or purposes as permitted by MHA;
- Metro rail services;
- Running of schools, colleges, educational and training/coaching institutions;
- Hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services, except for the running of canteens in bus depots, railway stations and airports;
- Places of large public gatherings such as cinemas, shopping malls, gymnasiums entertainment parks, etc;
- Social, political, cultural and similar gatherings and other large congregations; and
Access to religious places/places of worship for public.
However, online/distance learning shall be permitted and encouraged; and, restaurants will be allowed to operate kitchens for home delivery of food items.
Sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open only for sports activities. However, spectators will not be allowed in these complexes.
In order to facilitate the movement of persons, various modes of transport have already been opened up. Movement of individuals by trains has been permitted earlier by MHA through an order dated 11 May 2020. Further, evacuation of foreign nationals from India, return of stranded Indian nationals from abroad, sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers, and intra-state and inter-state movement of stranded persons by bus and train, will continue to be allowed.
Inter-state movement of vehicles and buses has also been allowed with mutual consent of the concerned states/ UTs. Intra-state movement of vehicles and buses can be decided by the states and UTs.
The guidelines specify the National Directives for COVID-19 management, which shall apply to public places and work places.
Under these guidelines, wearing of face covers is compulsory; spitting will be punishable with fine as may be prescribed in accordance with its laws, rules or regulations by the state/ UT local authority; and social distancing is to be followed by all persons in public places and in transport. Marriage related gathering shall not have more than 50 guests. For funerals/last rites, the maximum number of persons allowed has been kept at 20. Consumption of liquor, paan, gutkha and tobacco etc, is not allowed in public places.
The National Directives also stipulate additional requirements for work places. The practice of work from home should be followed to the extent possible; and staggering of work hours should be adopted in respect of all offices and other establishments. There should be provision for thermal scanning, hand wash and sanitisers at all entry and exit points and common areas; and all work places and other sensitive locations are to be sanitised regularly. In work places, social distancing would also need to be ensured through adequate distance between workers, adequate gaps between shifts, staggering the lunch break of staff and so on.
In the case of shops and markets, local authorities should ensure that these open with staggered timings, so as to ensure social distancing. All shops shall also have to ensure six feet distance (2 gaz ki doori) among customers and also not allow more than 5 persons at one time.
Night Curfew shall continue to remain in force on the movement of individuals, for all non-essential activities, between 7 pm and 7 am.
Vulnerable persons, ie, 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.
All activities to be permitted other than the limited number of those that are prohibited or restricted
All other activities will be permitted except those which are specifically prohibited under these guidelines. However, in containment zones, only essential activities shall be allowed, as mentioned earlier.
States/ UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain other activities in the various zones, or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary.
Use of the Aarogya Setu mobile application, which is a powerful tool built by Government of India to facilitate quick identification of persons infected by Covid-19, or at risk of being infected, thus acting as a shield for individuals and the community. With a view to ensure safety in offices and work places, employers on best effort basis should ensure that the application is installed by all employees having compatible mobile phones.
District authorities have been asked to advise individuals to install the Aarogya Setu application on compatible mobile phones and regularly update their health status on the app. This will facilitate timely provision of medical attention to those individuals who are at risk. State/ UT governments shall continue to strictly enforce the lockdown guidelines and they shall not dilute these guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, in any manner.