People wearing masks and maintaining social distancing while waiting in queues for autorickshaws during the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus, in Kolkata on May 29, 2020.
People wearing masks and maintaining social distancing while waiting in queues for autorickshaws during the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus, in Kolkata on May 29, 2020. |Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS
National

Govt. opens most activities from June 1, except in Containment Zones, in phased lifting of lockdown

Religious places, restaurants, malls to open from June 8 in Phase I; Decision on schools, colleges in July in Phase II; International air travel, cinema halls to be covered in Phase III

By Sonny Abraham/NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, May 30, 2020

The Government today threw open from June 1 all activities prohibited under the lockdown, in force since March 24 to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in areas outside Containment Zones, except some activities which will be allowed in a phased manner in the coming weeks.

The relaxations come with the stipulation that the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), to be prescribed by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, will be followed.

The lockdown was initially imposed for 21 days upto April 14, then extended for 19 days till May 3, for two weeks till May 17 and, finally, another two weeks till May 31. The extended lockdown was, thus, due to end tomorrow and the government was widely expected to relax the restrictions in non-Containment Zones while tightening them in the Containment Zones.

In order issued today, the Union Home Secretary said that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had directed him to issue an order to extend the lockdown in Containment Zones upto June 30, and to reopen prohibited activities in a phased manner in areas outside Containment Zones.

The order also said that the Guidelines for Phased Reopening (Unlock 1) would be valid till June 30, 2020.

"In areas outside Containment Zones, all activities will be permitted, except the following, which will be allowed, with the stipulation of following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), in a phased manner," it said.

The guidelines said religious places and places of worship for the public; hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services; and shopping malls would be allowed with effect from June 8.

"Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) will issue Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the above activities, in consultation with the Central Ministries/ Departments concerned and other stakeholders, for ensuring social distancing and to contain the spread of COVID-19," they said.

In Phase II, schools, colleges, and educational, training and coaching institutions, etc., will be opened after consultations with States and Union Territories (UTs). State Governments/ UT administrations may hold consultations at the institution level with parents and other stakeholders. Based on the feedback, a decision on the re-opening of these institutions will be taken in the month of July, 2020, the guidelines said.

The MoHFW will prepare SOPs in this regard, in consultation with the Central Ministries/ Departments concerned and other stakeholders, for ensuring social distancing and to contain the spread of COVID-19.

"The guidelines will come into effect from June 1, 2020 and will be effective till June 30, 2020. The current phase of re-opening, Unlock 1, will have an economic focus," a press release from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

During the strict nationwide lockdown, only essential activities were permitted and all other activities were prohibited. Subsequently, in a graded manner and keeping the overarching objective of containing the spread of COVID-19 in view, the lockdown measures were gradually relaxed, it said.

The release said the new guidelines issued today were based on extensive consultations held with States and UTs.

According to it, only a limited number of activities will remain prohibited throughout the country. These activities are: International air travel of passengers; operation of Metro Rail; cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations.

In Phase III, based on the assessment of the situation, dates for re-starting these will be decided, the guidelines said.

The National Directives for COVID-19 Management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, the guidelines said.

Night curfew will continue, and the movement of individuals shall remain strictly prohibited between 9.00 pm to 5.00 am throughout the country, except for essential activities. Local authorities shall issue orders, in the entire area of their jurisdiction, under appropriate provisions of law, such as under Section 144 of CrPC, and ensure strict compliance, they said.

The guidelines said the lockdown shall shall continue to remain in force in the Containment Zones till 30 June, 2020. Containment Zones will be demarcated by the District authorities after taking into consideration the guidelines of MoHFW.

In the Containment Zones, only essential activities shall be allowed. There shall be strict perimeter control to ensure that there is no movement of people in or out of these zones, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining supply of essential goods and services.

In the Containment Zones, there shall be intensive contact tracing, house-to-house surveillance, and other clinical interventions, as required. Guidelines of MoHFW shall be taken into consideration for this purpose.

The guidelines said States/ UTS may also identify Buffer Zones outside the Containment Zones, where new cases are more likely to occur. Within the buffer zones, restrictions as considered necessary may be put in place by the District authorities.

States/ UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain activities outside the Containment zones, or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary.

The guidelines made it clear that there shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

However, if a State/ UT, based on reasons of public health and its assessment of the situation, proposes to regulate movement of persons, it will give wide publicity in advance regarding the restrictions to be placed on such movement, and the related procedures to be followed.

Movement by passenger trains and Shramik special trains; domestic passenger air travel; movement of Indian Nationals stranded outside the country and of specified persons to travel abroad; evacuation of foreign nationals; and sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers will continue to be regulated as per SOPs issued.

No State/ UT shall stop the movement of any type of goods/ cargo for cross landborder trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries.

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

The guidelines said the Aarogya Setu app enables early identification of potential risk of infection, and thus acts as a shield for individuals and the community.

"With a view to ensuring safety in offices and work places, employers on best effort basis should ensure that Aarogya Setu is installed by all employees having compatible mobile phones.

"District authorities may 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," they said.

The Centre made it clear that State/ UT Governments shall not dilute these guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, in any manner. All the District Magistrates shall strictly enforce the measures.

Any person violating these measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, besides legal action under Section 188 of the IPC, and other legal provisions as applicable.

The National Directives for COVID-19 Management, which will continue to be in force, cover such aspects as wearing of face cover in public places, workplaces and during transport; social distancing in public places; prohibition of large gatherings; and so on.

NNN

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