A day after PM Modi announced the extension of lockdown, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on Wednesday, issued revised guidelines to be followed till May 3.
MHA has issued consolidated revised guidelines regarding lockdown measures to be taken by Ministries/Departments of Government of India, State/UT Governments for containment of COVID-19 epidemic in the country. The guidelines also prescribe National Directives for COVID-19 management; SOPs for Social Distancing at offices, workplaces, factories and establishments; and, penalties for offences regarding violation of lockdown measures under relevant sections of Disaster Management Act 2005 and IPC, 1860.
The objective of the revised guidelines is to consolidate the gains achieved during the 1st phase of lockdown and further slowdown the spread of Covid 19 and at the same time provide relief to farmers, labourers and daily wage earners.
The activities prohibited across the country include travel by air, rail and road; operation of educational and training institutions; industrial and commercial activities; hospitality services; all cinema halls, shopping complexes, theatres, etc., all social, political and other events, and opening of all religious places/ places of worship for members of public, including religious congregations.
There are certain national guidelines like mandatory home-made face covers at work places and in public places, strong hygiene and health care measures like provision of sanitisers , staggered shifts , access control , thermal screening and imposing fines for spitting etc. penalties will be imposed for violation.
The activities permitted under the revised guidelines, from April 20will not be allowed within the containment zones as demarcated by States/ UTs/ District Administrations, as per the guidelines of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHF&W). In these zones, no unchecked inward/ outward movement of population would be allowed, except for maintaining essential services, i.e., medical emergencies and law & order duties, and government business continuity.
Very strong containment measures will be implemented in the hotspot districts accounting for large number of Covid 19 cases or with fast growth of cases. Detailed guidelines on delineation of containment zones and containment measures have also been issued. Only essential services are to be permitted in these zones and strict perimeter control and strict restrictions on movement enforced.
The permitted activities from April 20 are aimed at ensuring that agricultural and related activities remain fully functional, the rural economy functions with maximum efficiency, employment opportunities are created for daily wage earners and other members of the labour force, select industrial activities are allowed to resume their operations, with adequate safeguards and mandatory standard operating protocols (SOPs) and the digital economy. At the same time, keeping the imperative of containing the spread of COVID-19 in the country, National Directives for COVID-19 management have been laid down, which shall be enforced by the District Magistrates through fines and penal action as prescribed in the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Transportation of goods will be permitted without any distinction of essential or non essential. Farming operations, including procurement of agricultural products, agriculture marketing through notified Mandis and direct and decentralized marketing, manufacture, distribution and retail of fertilizers, pesticides and seeds; activities of marine and inland fisheries; animal husbandry activities, including the supply chain of milk, milk products, poultry and live-stock farming; and tea, coffee and rubber plantations are allowed to be functional.
To provide an impetus to the rural economy, industries operating in rural areas, including food processing industries; construction of roads, irrigation projects, buildings and industrial projects in rural areas; works under MNREGA, with priority to irrigation and water conservation works; and operation of rural Common Service Centres (CSCs) have all been allowed. These activities will create job opportunities for rural labor, including the migrant labor force.
Manufacturing and other industrial establishments with access control will be allowed in SEZs, EoUs, industrial estates and industrial townships after implementation of SOP for social distancing. Manufacture of IT hardware and of essential goods and packaging are also allowed.
Digital economy is critical to the services sector and is important for national growth. Accordingly, e-commerce operations, operations of IT and IT enabled services, data and call centres for Government activities, and online teaching and distance learning are all permitted activities now.
The revised guidelines also permit all health services and the social sector to remain functional; public utilities to function without any hindrance; the supply chain of essential goods to operate without any hindrance; and, important offices of Central and State Governments and local bodies to remain open with required strength.