NEW DELHI: The government on Friday announced extension of the nationwide lockdown for another two weeks from May 4. But several relaxations have been announced in lockdown 3.0 to get the country’s economy up and running again. “The third lockdown is aimed to give economic stimulus to all zones within the country including red zones. The emphasis in phase-3 of lockdown was to get back to business,” a senior MHA official said.
The suspension of inter-state travel, air, metro and train services for the general public will continue to remain in force for the whole country as will the running of schools, colleges, educational and training hospitality services, cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes.
Wedding functions, which were not permitted earlier have now been allowed in lockdown 3.0 but with a limit of not more than 50 people. Funerals will continue to have a limit of 20 people.
All social, political, cultural and other kinds of gatherings will remain prohibited and religious places or places of worship for public will continue to remain shut. But for other activities, rules have been eased by classifying the country into three zones—Red, Orange and Green.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has reserved the most severe restrictions for the red zone districts—those which have active cases of COVID-19. The restrictions have been eased somewhat in orange zones. Green Zones will see fewest restrictions. Containment zones, within the red zones, will continue to be under all restrictions.
Movement of individuals for non-essential activities will remain suspended in all zones from 7 pm to 7 am. The MHA has also said that persons above 65 years of age, children, pregnant women and those with co-morbidities must stay home throughout the duration of this lockdown 3.0.
After 40 days of the shutdown, shops selling liquor, tobacco and gutka will be allowed to open up with riders of allowing only five customers at a time.
House help will be allowed in all zones except containment zones.
Looking to impose stricter contact tracing surveillance to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, Aarogya Setu app has been made a must for all office goers in both public and private sector. The government also made the app mandatory for all those living in containment zones.
Extension of the lockdown comes in the backdrop of spike in deaths due to COVID-19 in the past four days. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 has been consistently on the rise since April 25 which recorded 44 deaths. India reported 56, 58, 69, 71, 75 and 77 deaths on April 26, April 27, April, 29, April 30 and May 1 respectively.
The MHA has left it up to the states to further regulate the activities permitted by it. According to the MHA order, the states can further restrict activities that have been permitted by MHA.
“All other activities will be permitted activities, which are not specifically permitted/prohibited with restrictions in the various zones, under the 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,” read the MHA order.
Private offices can operate with up to 33% strength as per requirement, with the remaining persons working from home. According to MHA’s order and guidelines for enforcement of the lockdown, all government offices shall function with senior officers of the level of Deputy Secretary and above at full strength, and the remaining staff attending upto 33% as per requirement.
Movement of private cars with a maximum of two persons and two-wheelers without pillion rider will now be allowed in the areas in the Red zones, signifying hot-spots.
Operations of businesses of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Industrial Estates and Export Oriented Undertakings with access control will also be re-opened in Red zones. Manufacturing plants of essential goods, manufacturing of IT hardware, jute industry units, MNREGA works and manufacturing units of packaging material will also be allowed to resume operations in these high-risk areas.
But plying of cycle rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, taxis and cab aggregators; intra-district and inter-district plying of buses; and, barbershops, spas and saloons will remain prohibited in red zones area.
Barbershops will be open in green and orange zones as all standalone (single) shops, neighbourhood (colony) shops and shops in residential complexes are permitted to remain open in urban areas, without any distinction of essential and non-essential.
Construction activities have also been permitted in red zones but only in-situ construction (where workers are available on site and none are required to be brought in from outside) and construction of renewable energy project has been allowed.
On April 15, when the government announced the second phase of shutdown, it had allowed all kinds of construction activities in rural areas and in-situ construction activities in urban areas but had not allowed any industrial or construction activity in red zones.
E-commerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart etc will be allowed to deliver essential as well as non-essential items from May 4 in Green and Orange zones. However, in red-zones, e-commerce operations will be limited to supply of only essential goods.
Green and orange zones will also see resumption of auto-rickshaws, rickshaws, operation of taxis and cab aggregators like Ola and Uber on certain conditions. Buses have been allowed to operate in green zones but with 50 per cent of their capacity. The same limit of 50 per cent will be applicable to bus depots too.
The government order announcing extension of the shutdown, invoking the Disaster Management Act was issued by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla. In a statement, MHA said the Union Health Ministry would be sharing classification of districts into zones to the states and union territories on a weekly basis.
The guidelines for the shutdown were first issued on March 24 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown to contain the pandemic. Those guidelines specified the people and services exempted from the lockdown. The revised guidelines for the second phase of shutdown were issued on April 15, listing more activities to be allowed during the shutdown. The activities and services given relaxations earlier will continue to remain exempted from the lockdown.
Domestic helps can resume work
Domestic helps will be allowed in all zones except containment zones. Green and Orange Zones will see resumption of autos, rickshaws and buses with limited capacity. Also,cab services can start operating subject to certain conditions
Trains start rolling
Migrant workers and others stranded for weeks amid the lockdown, can now be relieved as the Centre allowed special trains to take them home
More on the way
A train with 1,200 people started from Telangana to Jharkhand on Friday. Another from Kerala left for Odisha. More trains are planned
All passengers would be screened and those showing symptoms of Covid-19 would be barred entry. Maintaining social distancing on board is must