May 18, 2020 : The centre government on May 17 extended the ongoing nationwide lockdown for two more weeks, till May 31. The fourth phase of the lockdown will commence from today. The government has allowed considerable relaxations in this round of lockdown- Inter-state movement of vehicles, buses have been allowed with states and Union Territories being given the final power to delineate Red, Orange and Green zones.
The new guidelines are based on suggestions from states that Prime Minister Modi had sought during his fifth discussion with chief ministers on the pandemic on May 11.
Activities prohibited throughout the country
* All domestic and international air travel of passengers, except for domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance and for security purposes or purposes as permitted by MHA.
* Metro rail services.
* Running of schools, colleges, educational and training/coaching institutions
*Hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services, except for the running of canteens in bus depots, railway stations and airports; places of large public gatherings such as cinemas, shopping malls, gymnasiums entertainment parks, etc.; social, political, cultural and similar gatherings and other large congregations; and, access to religious places/places of worship for public.
However, online/ distance learning shall be permitted and encouraged; and, restaurants will be allowed to operate kitchens for home delivery of food items.
Departure from the Past: What states can do
*Under the new guidelines, States and Union Territories (UTs) will now categorize Red, Green and Orange zones taking into consideration the parameters shared by the Health Ministry. So now one will have to wait for each state to decide and declare their guidelines and norms around this.
*The zones can be a district, or a municipal corporation/ municipality or even smaller administrative units such as sub-divisions, etc, as decided by States and UTs.
*Inside the red/ orange zones, containment and buffer zones will be identified by the district administration/ local urban bodies with technical inputs at local level and by taking into consideration the Health Ministry guidelines.
*Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained, and no movement of persons would be allowed, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining supply of essential goods and services. Buffer zones are areas around each containment zone, where new cases are more likely to appear. In the buffer zones, more caution needs to be exercised.
Activities permitted with restrictions
*Evacuation of foreign nationals from India, return of stranded Indian nationals from abroad, sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers, and intra-State and inter-State movement of stranded persons by bus and train, will continue to be allowed.
*Inter-State movement of vehicles and buses has also been allowed with mutual consent of the concerned States/ UTs. Intra-State movement of vehicles and buses can be decided by the States and UTs.
Rules regarding shops and markets
*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.
Night curfew :
Night Curfew shall continue to remain in force on the movement of individuals, for all non-essential activities, between 7 pm and 7 am.
Protection for vulnerable persons
*Vulnerable persons, i.e., 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.
*All activities to be permitted except those which are specifically prohibited
*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.
A Recap of Earlier Lockdowns
The lockdown was first imposed for 21 days starting March 25 and then extended on April 15 and later on May 4. The lockdown 3.0 ends today. The third of the lockdown witnessed considerable relaxations in measures with standalone stores lifting shutters, liquor shops opening up and 15 special passenger trains resuming service ever since the Railways suspended operations on March 25.(economictimes)