In Unlock 1, re-opening of economic activities except in containment zones
The Centre on Sunday issued guidelines for re-opening all the activities in a phased manner from June 1 with a view to return to normalcy, more than two months after first nationwide lockdown was announced to contain the spread of Covid-19 infection.
The containment zones, however, will continue to be under strict lockdown with only essential services allowed there and movement of people restricted.
Key activities to resume from the second week of June include hotels, shopping malls and dine-in facilities in restaurants, which were closed since March 24.
However, international flights, metro rail, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places as well as any kind of social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural, academic or religious function with large congregations will continue to be banned for the time being. A decision on these activities will be taken at a later stage.
The new guidelines for phased re-opening of areas outside the containment zones – termed “Unlock-1” by the ministry of home affairs – have been issued after extensive consultations with states and union territories. Home minister Amit Shah fronted the discussions with chief ministers on Thursday. He then met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, informing him about the inputs from various CMs. The lockdown 4.0, which was announced on May 17, ends on Sunday.
With an “economic focus”, the MHA order said, “all activities that were prohibited earlier will be opened up in areas outside Containment Zones in a phased manner”.
However, the Centre has left the decision on the states to prohibit certain activities outside the containment zones if they want, based on their assessment.
The Centre has claimed that there shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods. Also, no separate permission or approval or any e-permit will be required for such movements. The offices – government and private – have been told to encourage work from home (WFH) as far as possible.
To stop inter-state movement, states will have to give ‘wide publicity’ in advance so that people are not stuck at borders. The regular passenger trains, Shramik Specials and movement of Indians stranded abroad will continue, according to existing guidelines issued earlier this month.
Timing of night curfew – has been revised from earlier 7 pm to 7 am, to 9 pm to 5 am now, to ensure people have more flexibility in going to their workplaces or carrying out any other economic activity.
The activities allowed in phase one are religious places and places of worship, hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services as well as shopping malls, which can reopen from June 8. The health ministry will soon issue SOPs (standard operating protocols) for the same.
Similarly, a decision will be taken in July to re-open schools, colleges and other educational institutions after consultations with states and union territories as part of phase two. The states governments have been asked to hold consultations at the institution level with parents and other stakeholders in this regard.
The phase three will, based on ground assessment, decide whether international flights, metro rail, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places as well as any kind of social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural, academic or religious function with large congregations will be allowed.
For containment zones, the MHA order said that “lockdown will continue to remain in force till June 30 and that there should be strict perimeter control there to ensure there is no movement of people in and out, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining supply of essential goods and services”. State governments have been given freedom to identify ‘Buffer Zones’, areas outside the containment zones where new infection cases are more likely to occur.
People above age 65 years, children below 10 years and those with co-morbidities and pregnant women have been asked to stay indoors.
The government has advised the download of Aarogya Setu, terming it a powerful tool to facilitate quick identification of persons infected with Covid-19.