NEW DELHI, May 1 - The Centre on Friday announced the third extension of the nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus crisis for two more weeks till May 17. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) 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 relaxation in the districts falling in the Green and Orange Zones, the MHA order said.
�After a comprehensive review, and in view of the lockdown measures having led to significant gains in the COVID-19 situation in the country, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, today, to further extend the lockdown for a further period of two weeks beyond May 4, 2020,� the order stated.
�The classification of districts into Red, Green and Orange Zones will be shared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) with the States on a weekly basis, or earlier, as required. While States 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 MHA added.
The Green Zones will be districts with either zero confirmed cases so far 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, extent of testing and surveillance feedback from the districts. Those districts, which are neither defined as Red or Green, shall be classified as Orange zones,� MHA also said.
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 where there is significant risk of spread of the infection. The containment areas would be defined by 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.
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; places of large public gatherings, such as cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes; social, political, cultural and other kinds of gatherings; and, religious places and places of worship for public. However, movement of persons by air, rail and road is allowed for select purposes, and for purposes as permitted by the MHA.
The new guidelines also prescribe certain measures for wellbeing and safety of persons. Hence, movement of individuals, for all nonessential 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.
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 barber shops, spas and saloons. Certain other activities have been allowed in the Red Zones with restrictions: Movement of individuals and vehicles is allowed only for permitted activities, with a maximum of 2 persons (besides the driver) in four-wheeler vehicles, and with no pillion rider in the case of two-wheelers.
All government offices shall function with senior officers of the level of Deputy Secretary and above at full strength, while the remaining staff will attend with 33 per cent attendance.
A large part of the financial sector will remain open, which includes banks, non-banking finance companies, insurance and capital market activities, and credit cooperative societies. Operation of homes for children, senior citizens, destitute, women and widows; and operation of Anganwadis has also been permitted. Public utilities, including power, water, sanitation, waste management, telecommunications and Internet will remain open, and courier and postal services will be allowed to operate.
All goods traffic is to be permitted. No State shall stop movement of cargo for cross-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.