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Home Ministry issues revised guidelines on lockdown

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 15, 2020 Published on April 15, 2020

A customer care worker wears a face mask and gloves at a super market in the western suburbs of Mumbai during the lockdown imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease. - Paul Noronha

Allows limited construction, mining and courier, e-commerce services from April 20

Public transport services, including flights and trains, cinema halls, shopping complexes and malls, and educational institutions will remain closed till May 3, even though selected industrial activities, particularly outside urban areas, and those important to maintain essential services and supplies will be allowed to function from April 20, said revised lockdown guidelines issued by the Home Ministry on Wednesday.

While buses and taxis will remain off the road, long distance travel, barring for those involved in providing healthcare, by trains and flights will not be permitted till the extended lockdown gets lifted. During this period all social, political, religious, sports, academic and entertainment functions will be banned and only limited number of people (not more than 20) will be allowed to participate in funerals.

However, limited construction, mining, courier services, e-commerce and information technology firms, apart from those required for smooth functioning of essential services and supplies as such as farm equipment repair shops and highway dhabas will be allowed to operate from April 20, by strictly adhering to guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and following social distance norms.

Read also: Railways to take a hit of at least ₹6,500 crore as lockdown stalls train services

The objective of the revised guidelines is to consolidate the gains achieved during the first phase of the lockdown and further slow down the spread of Covid 19 while providing relief to farmers, labourers and daily wage earners.

Face masks mandatory

There are certain national guidelines like mandatory home-made face covers at work places and in public places, strong hygiene and healthcare measures like provision of sanitisers, staggered shifts, access control, thermal screening and imposing fines for spitting. Any violation of the guidelines will attract penalties, the guidelines said.

The activities permitted under the revised guidelines from April 20 will not be allowed within the containment zones as demarcated by States/ Union Territories, district administrations. In these zones, no unchecked inward/ outward movement of population would be allowed, except for maintaining essential services such as medical emergencies and law and order duties, and government business continuity.

Read also: Entire Kashmir will be under complete lockdown

Very strong containment measures will be implemented in the hotspot districts accounting for a 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.

Farm and related activities fully functional

The permitted activities from April 20 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.

Transportation of goods will be permitted without any distinction of essential or non-essential. Farming operations, including procurement of agricultural products, agriculture marketing through notified mandis and direct and decentralised marketing, manufacture, distribution and retail of fertilisers, 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; and tea, coffee and rubber plantations 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 been allowed. These activities will create job opportunities for rural labour, including the migrant labour force.

Manufacturing in SEZs, EoUs

Manufacturing and other industrial establishments with access control have been permitted in SEZs, EoUs, industrial estates and industrial townships after implementation of SOP for social distancing. Manufacture of IT hardware and of essential goods and packagings are also allowed. Coal, mineral and oil production are permitted activities.

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 such as RBI, banks, ATMs, capital and debt markets as notified by SEBI and insurance companies will also remain functional, providing liquidity and credit support to the industrial sectors.

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; and, important offices of Central and State Governments and local bodies to remain open with required strength.

Published on April 15, 2020

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