The fourth phase of countrywide lockdown, which will continue till May 31, has put the ball in the court of states, allowing them not only to colour-code the zones according to the incidence of coronavirus, thereby taking a final decision on what activities are allowed in any particular area. The Centre, however, made it clear that only essential activities shall be allowed in containment zones. The Centre has allowed buses and other vehicles to run. But the key bars — on air travel and metro rail, malls, gyms, cinemas and big gatherings — have been retained. Workplaces and shops can function but with restrictions, said the order, which came less than a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised lockdown in a in a “completely different form”, with new rules.
Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
- The Centre has also retained curfew at night — from 7 pm to 7 am, but movement of people will be allowed during the daytime. The government, however, said vulnerable persons, meaning those above the age of 65 and children below 10, persons with chronic illnesses and pregnant women should not go out of doors.
- For the states, the big change was that they would be allowed to demarcate the red, green and orange zones, which define the concentration of the cases and how much economic activity could take place in the area. This was the key demand of states during last week’s meeting between Chief Ministers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Within the Red and Orange Zones, Containment Zones and Buffer Zones will be demarcated by the district authorities, after taking into consideration the guidelines of the health ministry, the government said.
- Buses and other public transport will be allowed to run –both intra and inter-state, but subject to the approval of the states, the Centre said.
- The practice of work from home should be followed to the extent possible, the Centre said. At workplaces, staggering of work hours should be adopted. There should be provision for thermal scanning, hand wash and sanitizers and common areas and rules of social distancing should be maintained.
- Markets and all shops can reopen, but the final decision belongs to the states. If open, these should maintain staggered timing to ensure social distancing. No economic activity, however, will be allowed within the containment zones, which have a high incidence of coronavirus cases, the Centre said.
- The government has also not allowed any re-opening of areas which draw a large number of people — shopping malls and multiplexes, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls, hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services.
- Sports complexes and stadia can open, however, spectators will not be allowed, the home ministry guidelines read.
- Anything that would involve large gathering also remains banned. All places of worship shall also be closed for public and religious congregations are strictly prohibited, the government said.
- The fresh phase of lockdown comes as the number of coronavirus cases in the country rose to 90,927, recording the biggest single-day jump of 4,987 new patients. The figure includes 2,872 patients who died and more than 34,000 patients who recovered.