Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Extension of nationwide lockdown till May 3; Centre notifies Revised Consolidated Guidelines

Travel, operation of educational institutions, hospitality services, social events, and religious congregations suspended

Port Blair, Apr 15
    The Prime Minister, in his address to the Nation on April 14, 2020, declared that the lockdown in India will have to be extended till May 3, 2020, with a view to arrest the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
    The Prime Minister also declared that select necessary activities will be allowed to be opened up from April 20, 2020, in identified areas of the country.  
    In pursuance of the announcements of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an order dated April 14, 2020, extending the lockdown in India till May 3, 2020.  Further, MHA issued another Order, dated April 15, 2020, to allow select additional activities in areas not demarcated as containment zones by States/ UTs/ District Administrations. 
    Along with the Order dated April 15, 2020, consolidated revised guidelines have been issued, delineating the prohibited activities across the country, activities allowed in containment zones, and select permitted activities allowed from April 20, 2020 in the rest of the country.
    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 and labour 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 homemade face covers at work places and in public places, strong hygiene and health care measures like provision of sanitizers, 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 20, 2020 will 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. These hotspots are under 3 km perimeter from residence of confirmed case and are being enforced in Atlanta Point, Mohanpura Masjid area and Biggi Line area. Moreover, the District Administration of South Andaman has notified 7 km perimeter from residence of confirmed case which would also remain under strict surveillance. This will more or less include PBMC area and nearby peripheral areas of Port Blair.
  • ·         The permitted activities from April 20, 2020 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 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 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 have been permitted industrial estates after implementation of SOP for social distancing.  Manufacture of essential goods and packaging are also allowed. It is expected that the industrial and manufacturing sectors will see a revival with these measures, and will create job opportunities while maintaining safety protocols and social distancing.  At the same time, the important components of the financial sector, e.g., RBI, banks, ATMs, insurance companies will also remain functional, with a view to provide enough liquidity and credit support to the industrial sectors.
  • ·         Digital economy is critical to the services sector and is important. Accordingly, e-commerce operations, distance learning through Doordarshan, All India Radio and cable TV 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.
  • ·         The guidelines provide that the UT Administration may impose stricter measures than the guidelines as per requirement of the local areas from time to time.

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