New Delhi: The nationwide coronavirus lockdown will be extended by two more weeks from May 4, the government said on Friday, noting significant gains from the six-week shutdown in India’s fight to slow the spread of COVID-19. Extending the lockdown for the second time, the home ministry announced new guidelines based on the demarcation of the country into red zones with “significant risk of spread of the infection”; green zones with either zero cases or no confirmed cases in the past 21 days; and those in-between as orange. While some curbs will apply across the country, there will be considerable relaxations in districts in green and orange zones to revive economic activity that has been stalled during the tough restrictions in place since March 25. The government said the stringent restrictions have kept coronavirus cases to a relatively low 35,365 as of Friday, with 1,152 deaths. No activity except most essential will be allowed in containment zones. The biggest and most economically-important cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Ahmedabad, all marked red zones, will stay under strict lockdown.
Here are the main points of the Home Ministry’s lockdown extension guidelines:
- The new guidelines say “for the well-being and safety” of people, the movement will be banned between 7 pm and 7 am except for essential reasons. Those above 65, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below 10 will stay at home, except necessary.
- Travel by air, rail, metro, and inter-state movement by road will remain banned. Schools, colleges, hotels, restaurants; cinemas, malls, shopping centers, gyms, and sports complexes will also stay shut. Gatherings — social, political, cultural and religious — will also not resume for now.
- All goods traffic will be allowed between states, without passes. Air, rail, or road travel will be allowed with special permission only.
- In red zones, cars with two persons besides the driver and two-wheelers with a single rider will be allowed. Single shops can open in urban areas, whether for essential or non-essential goods. e-Commerce will be allowed for essential goods.
- Private offices can operate with up to 33% strength, with the rest on Work-From-Home. All private and government employees will need to download the Aarogya Setu contact tracing app.
- Banks, public utilities like power, water, sanitation, waste management, telecommunications, and the internet will remain open, and courier and postal services will be allowed to operate.
- Media, IT and IT-enabled services, data and call centers, cold storage and warehousing services, private security, plumbers, and electricians will be allowed (not barbers).
- Shops selling liquor, paan, gutka, and tobacco will be allowed in green and orange zones – if states want — but they have to ensure “do gaz doori (six-feet distance)” and not more than five people at a time.
- In the orange zones, taxis and cab aggregators will be allowed to operate with one passenger. Cars can have two passengers besides the driver and pillion riding will be allowed on two-wheelers.
- In the Green Zones, all activities will reopen except those banned across the country. But in these areas, buses can operate only with half the seating capacity.