Coronavirus: Lockdown extended for 2 weeks, business activities to resume based on zones

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday extended the nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus by another two weeks or 14 days. This is in addition to the extended lockdown due to end on May 4 as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Directives mentioned in the order will come into effect on May 4 onwards.

A top MHA official told India Today, “The third lockdown is aimed to give economic stimulus to all zones within the country including red zones, the emphasis on phase-3 of lockdown was to get back to business.” Exceptions to the lockdown have been issued after considering the risk-profiling of various districts across the country. The MHA has also issued specific guidelines to regulate different economic activities during this period.

MHA has also stated clearly that no state/UT can stop the movement of cargo for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries apart. All goods traffic is also to be permitted by states.

Movement of individuals for non-essential activities will remain suspended in all zones from 7 pm to 7 am, the order adds. The MHA has also said that persons above 65 years of age, children, pregnant women and those with co-morbidities must stay home throughout the duration of this lockdown 3.0.

The MHA’s order said that the Aarogya Setu App is a must for residents of containment zones. It also says that no more than 20 people will be allowed to attend a funeral or last rites of a person. For weddings, the order says that no more than 50 people will be allowed to attend a wedding ceremony. It has also allowed liquor shops and paan shops in green zones to reopen. The movement of domestic help in green zones has also been permitted.

In addition, private companies have also been allowed to resume work but with 33 per cent of their strength in the workplace.

According to the MHA’s order on Friday, some activities will remain prohibited despite the classification of red, orange and green zones. These include travel by air, rail, metro and inter-state movement by road. Schools, colleges, training/coaching centres and other educational institutions will also remain closed.

Hotels, restaurants, cinema halls, malls and gyms will also continue to remain closed apart from places of worship.

Orange Zones:

The government has allowed certain activities in orange zones, apart from the ones permitted in red zones. Taxis and cab aggregators will be allowed to operate only with one driver and two passengers per car in orange zones. In addition, the inter-district movement of individuals in orange zones will also be allowed for permitted activities. Four-wheelers will be allowed to ply on roads with a maximum of two passengers along with pillion riding on two-wheelers, the MHA’s order said.

Red Zones:

Certain activities have been allowed in Red Zones which are outside of containment zones, adds the MHA order. Movement of people or vehicles is only allowed in red zones for permitted activities. Two people have been allowed per four-wheeler (including driver) and one person (no pillion riding) per two-wheeler. It identifies these activities as all industrial and construction activities in rural areas, including MNREGA works, food processing units and brick kilns. All agriculture activities in rural areas have also been exempted from the extended lockdown along with all shops, animal husbandry activities.

Plying of taxis, and cabs apart from cycle rickshaws and auto-rickshaws will not be permitted in red zones apart from barbershops, spas and salons.

Green Zones:

E-commerce has also been allowed to resume operations and deliver non-essential goods in green and orange zones. SEZ and export-oriented units along with industrial estates and industrial townships with access control have also been permitted to get back to work.

While inter-state and intra-state movement will continue to be restricted, buses have been allowed to operate in green zones only with 50 per cent of their capacity. The same rule will be applicable to bus depots.

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