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Coronavirus lockdown | Government eases a slew of restrictions; malls, religious places to open

Migrant labourers pull handcart loaded with building materials during the nationwide lockdown in New Delhi on May 30, 2020.

Migrant labourers pull handcart loaded with building materials during the nationwide lockdown in New Delhi on May 30, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in containment zones, says Union Home Ministry.

As Lockdown 4.0 comes to an end, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued new guidelines called Unlock 1.0 allowing malls, restaurants, religious places to open in all areas except containment zones from June 8. It however prohibited opening of bars, gymnasiums, entertainment parks, cinema halls, metro rail and international air travel.

The permit system for inter-State movement of vehicles has been removed and there shall be no restriction on movement within and outside a State. If the local administration has to regulate movement in wake of a surge in number of COVID-19 cases, it will have to give wide publicity in advance regarding the procedure and restrictions to be followed.

The grading of areas in red, orange and green zones is no longer in force but State government could identify buffer zones outside containment zones and impose restrictions.

The lockdown was imposed first on March 24 in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its fourth phase is to end on May 31. On Saturday, MHA issued guidelines under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, for “phased reopening” of areas outside the containment zones that will be effective till June 30.  A decision to reopen schools and educational institutes will be taken in second phase in July. “The current phase of reopening, Unlock 1, will have an economic focus,” an MHA statement said.

The activities and utilities that will remain suspended throughout the country are international air travel metro rail, cinema halls/theatres, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, bars, auditoriums and assembly halls. All kinds of social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural and religious congregations will remain suspended. 

In Phase III, dates for their opening will be decided based on assessment of the situation. Shramik special trains and limited number of domestic flights and trains will continue to run.

Also read: Lockdown extension | MHA guidelines dated May 17, 2020

“All activities that were prohibited earlier will be opened up in areas outside containment zones in a phased manner with the stipulation of following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be prescribed by the Health Ministry,” said the statement.

Religious places, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls will be permitted to open from June 8 and Health Ministry will issue SOPs.

Coronavirus lockdown | Government eases a slew of restrictions; malls, religious places to open
 

MHA said that lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the containment zones that will be demarcated by the State governments. “Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and only essential activities allowed,” MHA said.

MHA said that the State government based on its assessment may prohibit certain activities outside the containment zones or impose restrictions as deemed necessary.

Also read: Economic stimulus package | Details of ₹20-lakh-crore package announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in five tranches

MHA said that persons above 65 years of age, those with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.

MHA said that authorities are advised to encourage the use of the Aarogya Setu application.

Wearing of face masks and maintaining social distancing is compulsory at all public and work places.

The National Directives for COVID-19 management has been reiterated and advises work from home as far as possible. It prescribes staggered work hours, frequent sanitization and social distancing at workplaces. The number of people in marriage functions cannot exceed 50 and for funerals and last rites the number has been capped at 20. Spitting in public places will be a punishable offence.

Any kind of violation of lockdown measures will be punishable under the DM Act, 2005.

Maximum containment zones are in 13 cities — Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi / New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Thane, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata / Howrah, Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Jaipur, Jodhpur (Rajasthan), Chengalpattu and Thiruvallur (Tamil Nadu). These cities also account for 70% of total COVID-19 cases in the country.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 5:02:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-lockdown-mha-releases-new-guidelines-for-phased-reopening/article31711099.ece

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