Coronavirus lockdown: Who are exempted as essential services providers
Central and state governments have only allowed people associated with the delivery of essential services to be exempt from the restrictions imposed under lockdown provisions and prohibitory orders. It has been made clear that the administration will take a dim view of violations and will invoke section 188 for disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant of the Indian Penal Code against those found flouting norms.
It is, therefore, important for all to know who all qualify as providers of essential services and have nothing to fear when venturing out for carrying out their official duties. Here are some of the people who broadly qualify as part of essential services.
Essential services in the government: Staff of government departments of health, police, fire, water, electricity, sanitation, civil supplies, will have to report to work. Upto 75% government employees in other departments have been given either paid leaves or put on rotational duties. The arrangement differs for every state and employees must refer to state directives issued in this regard.
Essential services in market places: Suppliers and sellers of groceries, vegetables, milk, medicines have also been categorised as essential services, therefore, stores housing these will remain open and workers employed with these outlets will report to work. Online services for food and other essential supplies are also allowed to work. However, most of these companies have also provisioned for work from home options for their employees.
Transport services categorised as essential services: While the Railways have suspended all trains inclusive suburban services and most of the states have suspended all other public transport facilities including inter and intrastate buses, metro train services and ordered public transport run by the private sector like autos, taxis, private buses, e-rickshaws etc to stay off the roads as part of non-essential services, some public transport vehicles have been categorised as essential services including those ferrying food, medicine, oil supplies, ambulances, some state-run buses connecting essential services like airports, hospitals and other places of strategic importance will function and employees deployed for those duties will be allowed to report to work.
LPG, petrol, diesel, PDS agencies: While the staff working for LPG distribution agencies, petrol stations and PDS distribution centers do not work for the government but they carry out essential services and therefore are exempt from movement restrictions imposed during the lockdown and are supposed to report to work
Domestic airline and airport staff: While all international flights to India are suspended for a period of a week beginning Sunday midnight, there is no restriction on the operation of domestic flights despite several airlines cutting down on a number of flights due to reduced demand. Airline staff including plane crew and ground staff are permitted to report to work.
Jawans and Journalists: Soldiers and personnel security forces responsible for internal and external security of our country are exempt from any restriction on movement , however, the Indian Army has announced substantial reduction in number of officers who are required to report to the headquarters as precautionary measures. Print and electronic media professionals dealing with news and employed with newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, Websites, too, are providers of essential services and will be allowed to report to work and carry out their duties on the street while maintaining precautions announced for social distancing.
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