NEW DELHI: Two days before the scheduled end of the national lockdown, the Centre on Friday extended it by another two weeks, but with significant easing of curbs intended to reopen the country and restart economic activity even in the red zones, leaving only containment areas under strict restrictions.
The movement of individuals for “non-essential” activities has been prohibited between 7pm and 7am, and senior citizens, persons with co-morbidities (health conditions) and children below 10 years are to stay at home except for health purposes. This can allow domestic help and other local workers to work during the day though states are expected to further clarify the rules in this regard. Private offices (at 33% staff strength) will be able to function even in red zones.
The norms set the framework for states, which can increase restrictions but cannot dilute them. The norms allow near-normalcy in green zones, now designated as areas with no fresh Covid-19 cases for 21 days, with the movement of taxis, autos and rickshaws. The same applies to orange zones where no cases have been detected for a fortnight but such movement is prohibited in red zones. Buses will also be allowed to operate at 50% capacity in green zones. In red zones, private four-wheelers with maximum two passengers in the back are permitted but for two-wheelers, no pillion riders are allowed.
E-commerce firms can start delivering non-essential items in orange and green zones but not in red zones, which will rule out several cities. The revised guidelines have a relatively small negative list though officials explained that this is subject to change, keeping in view how the coronavirus infection progresses. As of now, several cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai are battling the outbreak.
A limited number of activities remain prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of zones. These include travel by air, rail, Metro and inter-state movement by road, running of educational institutions and coaching centres, hospitality services, including hotels and restaurants, places of large public gatherings like cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes as well as social, religious, political, cultural and other gatherings.
Movement by air, rail and road has been allowed for select purposes. In a major relief for states that have been slammed by excise losses, there is no prohibition on the sale of liquor and tobacco products. The “national directives on Covid-19 management” have been relaxed to allow liquor shops to open with a minimum 6-foot distance between people and no more than five people present at one time. The consumption of liquor, paan, gutka or tobacco in public places will, however, continue to be banned.
As per the norms, wearing a face cover will be compulsory and use of the Aarogya Setu app is mandatory for both public and private sector employees.
In red zones, service providers, including domestic helps and drivers, can travel to households for work between 7am and 7pm though not to and from containment zones. Barber shops, spas and salons will remain closed in red zones, though they can operate in green and orange zones.
Industrial establishments like SEZs and EOUs, manufacturing of essential goods and IT hardware can resume in urban areas of red zones. All industrial activities may resume in rural areas. Only in-situ construction will be permitted in urban areas falling in red zones (outside containment zones) but all construction activities in rural areas. Markets and marketplaces will remain shut in urban areas of red zones though standalone/neighbourhood shops and shops in residential complexes can function. In rural areas, only malls will remain closed.
Even in red zones, print and electronic media, IT and IT-enabled services, data and call centres, cold storage and warehousing services, private security and facility management services and services provided by self-employed people, except barbers, can operate. In orange zones, besides all activities allowed in red zones, taxis and cab aggregators with a driver and two passengers can ply.
No inter-district or intra-district plying of buses is permitted, However inter-district movement of individuals and vehicles will be allowed for only permitted activities. In green zones, all activities apart from those prohibited across all zones are allowed. Buses can ply here at 50% capacity and bus depots will operate at 50% capacity.
All agriculture activities like sowing, harvesting, procurement and marketing operations in the agricultural supply chain are permitted.