Covid-19 control: Home Affairs Ministry’s guidelines for States, UTs

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 25, 2020 Published on November 25, 2020

A health worker takes samples at medical camp for Covid-19 at Poisar in Mumbai   -  Aadesh Choudhari

States, UTs cannot restrict inter-, intrastate movement of people, goods, it says

The Home Affairs Ministry on Wednesday said that States and UTs will have to take the Centre’s approval to impose local lockdown outside containment zones but can impose restrictions such as night curfews to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. The Ministry also stated that no restrictions can be imposed on inter-state and intra-state movement of goods and people.

In its guidelines for Surveillance, Containment and Caution, MHA said, “State/ UT governments shall not impose any local lockdown (State/ District/ sub-division/City level), outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the Central Government.”

It also said that in cities, where the “weekly Case Positivity Rate” is more than 10 percent, the State government should consider implementing staggered office timings and other suitable measures, to ensure social distancing.

“There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/ approval/e-permit will be required for such movements,” the guidelines added.

The Ministry also said that SOPs must be strictly followed for various activities allowed outside containment zones with restrictions such as international travel and cinema halls. While social, religious, sports, cultural and religious gatherings are allowed at a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces, MHA said the States and UTs, “may reduce the ceiling to 100 persons or less, in closed spaces,” based on their assessment of the situation.

“For observance of social distancing in crowded places, especially in markets, weekly bazaars and public transport, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) will issue a SOP, which shall be strictly enforced by States and UTs,” the guidelines added.

Recent spike in cases

The MHA stated that the main focus of the guidelines is to consolidate the substantial gains that have been achieved against the spread of Covid-19 which is visible in the steady decline in the number of active cases in the country. “Further, keeping in view the recent spike in new cases in few States/ UTs, ongoing festival season and onset of winter, it is emphasised that to fully overcome the pandemic, there is need to maintain caution and to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy, focussed on surveillance, containment and strict observance of the guidelines/ SOPs issued by MHA and Health Ministry,” it added.

These guidelines will be effective from December 1 and will remain in force up to December 31.

Containment zone norms

The Ministry also said that local district, police and municipalities should ensure that prescribed containment measures are strictly followed and they can impose local restrictions based on their assessment to contain the spread of Covid-19.

States/ UTs should ensure careful demarcation of Containment Zones by the district authorities, at the micro level, taking into consideration the guidelines prescribed by the Health Ministry.

Within the demarcated containment zones, all the measures prescribed by the Health Ministry must be followed which includes strict perimeter control, house-to-house surveillance, testing as per protocol, contact tracing, quick isolation, clinical interventions among others. “Local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed containment measures are strictly followed and State/ UT governments shall ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard,” the MHA statement added.

The Home Affairs Ministry said that the “National Directives for Covid-19 Management shall continue to be followed throughout the country”, so as to enforce Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

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Published on November 25, 2020
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