NEW DELHI: The centre on Monday issued guidelines for "Unlock 2", in which it did not give any major relaxations except announcing the expansion of air and rail services in a calibrated manner in the new phase from July 1 to July 31. The decision to not ease many restrictions was taken considering the rising number of Coronavirus cases, officials said.
The union home ministry, which has been supervising the coronavirus strategy for the country, said that domestic flights and passenger trains have already been allowed in a limited manner and their operations will be further expanded in a calibrated manner.
Limited domestic flight operations of one-third capacity were restarted after a gap of nearly two months on May 25. The Indian Railways which used to operate around 1,600 trains daily in the pre-COVID days is also functioning at a limited capacity running only 215 trains and a few Shramik trains on a daily basis.
International air travel, metro services, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, theatres will continue to remain shut for now and gatherings of all kinds, including religious gatherings, will be prohibited.
“International air travel of passengers, which has been permitted in a limited manner under the Vande Bharat mission, to be further opened up in a calibrated manner,” the ministry said. However, the ministry did not announce a date for restarting international flight operations, which is prohibited at the moment.
Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), while extending the international flight suspension to July 15, had said international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes on case-to-case basis.
The government also indicated that prohibition on some activities may be lifted during “Unlock 2”, based on assessment of the situation. “Dates for restarting the above prohibited activities may be decided separately and necessary SOPs shall be issued for ensuring social distancing and to contain the spread of COVID-19,” stated the guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry.
The government, however, made it clear that educational institutions including schools and colleges will remain closed till July 31. It underlined the need for online classes and distance learning.
Night curfew timings were relaxed by an hour. The ministry stated that curfew shall be in force from 10.00 pm to 5.00 am. Earlier, the timings were 9 pm to 5 am.
Relaxation in night curfew will help in seamless operation of industrial units in multiple shifts, movement of persons and goods on National and State Highways, loading and unloading of cargo and movement of persons to their destinations after disembarking from buses, trains and airplanes, the ministry stated in its official communication. In the statement, the ministry said that the guidelines were framed after extensive consultation with all States and UTs.
During unlock 2, shops can serve more than five persons at a time. However, they will have to continue adhering to the laid down physical distancing norms.
Training institutions of the central and state Governments will be allowed to function with effect from July 15, 2020. "SOP in this regard will be issued by the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India," the ministry said.
Containment zones will continue to remain under strict lockdown till July 31 and only essential activities will be allowed in the containment zones, the centre said.
It added that based on their respective assessments, states and UTs may prohibit certain activities outside the containment zones, or impose such restrictions as they deem necessary, while not diluting the underlying principles stated in ‘Unlock 2’ guidelines.
Those aged over 65 years, children below 10 years, pregnant women and persons with co-morbidities have been advised to stay at home except for essential and health purposes.