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Coronavirus | Lockdown extended till May 31; States will take a call on infection zones

People standing in a queue for lunch and ration in North West Delhi area during nationwide lockdown against coronavirus pandemic, on May 17, 2020.

People standing in a queue for lunch and ration in North West Delhi area during nationwide lockdown against coronavirus pandemic, on May 17, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Government eases inter-State travel but curbs on malls, religious gatherings stay.

The Centre on Sunday extended the nationwide lockdown, first imposed on March 24, for the fourth time till May 31 while giving considerable flexibility to States in deciding red, green and orange zones of COVID-19 intensity. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in its fresh guidelines for Lockdown 4.0 has eased restrictions considerably allowing inter-State movement of buses and cars, opening of all shops, except those in malls and containment zones, and the delivery of non-essential items through online shopping platforms. Barber shops, salons can also open.

The 33% restriction on workforce in offices has also been done away with.

The decision to extend the lockdown was taken after the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) directed Centre and State governments to continue the lockdown measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The National Executive Committee (NEC), chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, was directed to modify lockdown guidelines keeping in view the need to open up economic activities.

While metro systems, domestic and international air travel continue to remain suspended, the new guidelines allow plying of auto-rickshaws, cab aggregators and private taxis subject to permission by local authorities. Special train services will continue to operate on limited routes.

The National Directives for COVID-19 Management said the practice of work from home should be followed to the extent possible and staggered work hours should be adopted in respect of all offices and other establishments.

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“There should be provision for thermal scanning, hand wash and sanitizers 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,” the guidelines said.

The MHA said the Aarogya Setu mobile application is a powerful tool “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,” MHA said.

The MHA guidelines said inter-State movement of vehicles and buses has been allowed with mutual consent of the concerned States and Union Territories. States could decide on movement of vehicles within its boundaries.

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The guidelines said, “local authorities should ensure that shops and markets open with staggered timings, so as to ensure social distancing. All shops shall also have to ensure six feet distance among customers and also not allow more than five persons at one time.”

MHA said the fresh guidelines allow States to delineate Red, Green and Orange zones following the parameters set by the Health Ministry. 

“The zones can be a district or a municipal corporation/ municipality or even a smaller administrative units such as sub-divisions. Within the Red and Orange Zones, containment and buffer zones will be demarcated by the local authorities,” it said.

MHA said only essential activities shall be allowed in the containment zones. “Strict perimeter control shall be maintained, and no movement of persons would be allowed across the zones, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining supply of essential goods and services. Buffer zones are areas adjoining the containment zones, where new cases are more likely to appear. In the buffer zones, more caution needs to be exercised,” MHA said.

Coronavirus | Lockdown extended till May 31; States will take a call on infection zones
 

Schools, colleges, educational institutions, hotels, restaurants except canteens at bus depots, railway stations and airports will remain shut. Places of large public gatherings such as cinemas, shopping malls, gymnasiums, entertainment parks and all kinds of social, political, cultural and religious congregations remain prohibited.

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,” the MHA said.

The National Directives for COVID-19 management applicable at public places and work places say that wearing of face covers is compulsory and spitting will be a punishable offence.

“Social distancing is to be followed by all persons in public places and in all modes of transport. Marriage related gathering shall not have more than 50 guests. For funerals, the maximum number of persons allowed is 20,” the directives said. “Consumption of liquor, paan, gutkha and tobacco etc., is not allowed in public places,” it said.

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MHA said night curfew shall continue and movement of individuals for all non-essential activities remains barred between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“Vulnerable persons — 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,” the Ministry said.

“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,” MHA said.

Lockdown 4.0 guidelines

Coronavirus | Lockdown extended till May 31; States will take a call on infection zones

  • Inter State movement of buses allowed with mutual consent of States , except in containment zones.
  • Metro and air travel remains suspended
  • movement of individuals for non-essential actovities remain prohibited from 7 pm-7 am
  • States can decide delineation of red, orange and green zones
  • Sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open only for sports activities.  However, spectators will not be allowed in these complexe
  • 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 practice of work from home (WfH) 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 sanitizers at all entry and exit points and common areas; and all work places and other sensitive locations are to be sanitized regularly.
  • Local authorities should ensure that shops and markets 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.
  • Use of Arogya Setu app- 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.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 5:32:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-lockdown-extended-till-may-31-states-will-take-a-call-on-infection-zones/article31608103.ece

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