THE Government of India on Friday extended the nation-wide Lockdown for two more weeks beyond May 4. In an order to this effect signed by the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also issued new guidelines to regulate different activities in this period, based on the risk profiling of the districts of the country into Red (hotspot), Green and Orange Zones. The guidelines have permitted considerable relaxations in the districts falling in the Green and Orange Zones.
Under the new guidelines, a limited number of activities will remain prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the Zone. These include travel by air, rail, metro and inter-State movement by road; running of schools, colleges, and other educational and training/ coaching institutions; hospitality services, including hotels and restaurants; places of large public gatherings, such as cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes etc; social, political, cultural and other kinds of gatherings; and, religious places/ places of worship for the public. However, movement of persons by air, rail and road is allowed for select purposes, and for purposes as permitted by MHA.
In the Green Zones, all activities are permitted except the limited number of activities, which are prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the Zone. However, buses can operate with up to 50% seating capacity and bus depots can operate with up to 50% capacity.
All goods traffic is to be permitted. No State/ UT shall stop the movement of cargo for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate pass of any sort is needed for such movement, which is essential for maintaining the supply chain of goods and services across the country during the lockdown period.
On April 30, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) shared with the States and Union Territories the criteria for identification of districts as Red, Green and Orange.
The Green-Zones will be districts with either zero confirmed cases till date; or, no confirmed case in the last 21 days.
The classification of districts as Red Zones will take into account the total number of active cases, doubling rate of confirmed cases, the extent of testing and surveillance feedback from the districts.
Those districts, which are neither defined as Red nor Green, shall be classified as Orange zones.
The classification of districts into Red, Green and Orange Zones will be shared by MoHFW with the States and Union Territories (UTs) on a weekly basis, or earlier, as required. While States and UTs can include additional districts as Red and Orange Zones, they may not lower the classification of a district included by MoHFW in the list of Red or Orange Zones.
The local authority shall ensure 100% coverage of Aarogya Setu app among the residents of the Containment Zone. Containment Zones would have intensified surveillance protocols, with contact tracing, house to house surveillance, home/ institutional quarantining of persons based on their risk assessment, and clinical management.
According to MHA, strict perimeter control would need to be ensured, so that there is no movement of people in and out of these Zones, except for medical emergencies, and for maintaining the supply of essential goods and services. No other activity is permitted within the Containment Zones.
Further, a number of districts of the country have, within their boundaries, one or more Municipal Corporations (MCs). It has been observed that due to higher population density within the MCs, and consequent greater inter-mixing of people, the incidence of COVID-19 within the boundary of the MC(s) is higher than in the rest of the district. In the new guidelines, therefore, it has been provided that such districts will be classified into two Zones, i.e., one Zone for the area under the boundary of the MC(s); and, another for the area falling outside the boundary of the MC(s).
MHA guidelines say if the area outside the boundary of the MC(s) has reported no case for the last 21 days, it will be allowed to be classified as one stage lower than the overall classification of the district as either Red or Orange. Hence, this area will be classified as Orange, in case the district is overall Red; or as Green, in case the district is overall Orange.
This classification, according to MHA, will enable more economic and other activities in that area of the district, which is relatively less affected by the incidence of COVID-19, while also ensuring that due caution continues to be exercised so that these areas remain free from COVID-19 cases. This dispensation has been made only in respect of districts having Municipal Corporation (s).
Further, the most sensitive areas of the country, from the spread of COVID-19 point of view, and falling within the Red and Orange Zones, are designated as Containment Zones. These are areas, according to MHA, where there is a significant risk of spread of the infection. Respective District Administrations, taking into account the total number of active cases, their geographical spread, and the need to have well-demarcated perimeters from the enforcement point of view, would define the containment areas.
The new guidelines also prescribe certain measures for well being and safety of persons. Hence, the movement of individuals, for all non- essential activities, shall remain strictly prohibited between 7 pm to 7 am. Local authorities shall issue orders under appropriate provisions of law, such as prohibitory orders [curfew] under Section 144 of CrPC, for this purpose, and ensure strict compliance.
According to MHA, in all zones, 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. Out-Patient Departments (OPDs) and Medical clinics shall be permitted to operate in Red, Orange and Green Zones, with social distancing norms and other safety precautions; however, these will not be permitted within the Containment Zones
In the Red Zones, outside the Containment Zones, certain activities are prohibited in addition to those prohibited throughout the country. These are: plying of cycle rickshaws and auto-rickshaws; running of taxis and cab aggregators; intra-district and inter-district plying of buses; and, barbershops, spas and salons.
In the Orange Zones, in addition to activities permitted in Red Zone, taxis and cab aggregators will be permitted with 1 driver and 1 passenger only. Inter-district movement of individuals and vehicles will be allowed for permitted activities only. Four wheeler vehicles will have a maximum of two passengers besides the driver and pillion riding will be allowed on two-wheelers.
(With inputs from PIB)
Read the Order along with guidelines here: