India has extended its on-going nationwide lockdown for another two more weeks in an attempt to curb the coronavirus spread. The fourth phase of lockdown (Lockdown 4.0) will be till May 31, starting from May 18. In this phase, the Government has given much relaxation, such as allowing the Inter-state movement of vehicles and buses to operate, giving the authority to States and Union Territories (UTs) to delineate Red, Orange, and Green zones.
The new guidelines are based on the suggestions put forth by the Chief Minister during the fifth discussion held along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Here are the main points of lockdown 4.0
Even though there are many activities which are relaxed several are prohibited as well.
Activities that shall continue to remain prohibited
- All domestic and international air travel of passengers, except for domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance, and security purposes or others permitted by MHA.
- Metro rail services
- Operation of school, colleges, educational/training/ coaching institutions are barred till the next notification.
- Hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality services, except for those meant for housing health, police, Government officials, healthcare workers, stranded workers including tourist and quarantine facilities.
- All places of public gatherings such as the cinema hall, shopping malls, gymnasiums entertainment parks, and others are not allowed.
- All political, cultural, social, other similar gatherings and large congregations are disallowed.
- Access to religious places/places of worship are closed for public, and public gathering is strictly prohibited.
However, the operation of canteens at bus depots, railway stations, and airports are permitted. Restaurants are allowed to operate their kitchen only for home delivery purposes. The online/distant education shall continue to be permitted and will be encouraged.
What is a Buffer Zone?
Buffer Zones are areas around each Containment Zone, where new cases are more likely to appear. In such zones, more caution needs to be exercised to contain the virus.
Activities permitted except in containment zone:
Inter-States movement of passenger vehicles and buses with mutual consent from both the States and UTs involved. The States and UTs can decide the Intra-State movement of vehicles and buses.
Evacuation of foreign nationals from India and return of stranded Indian nationals from abroad. Sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers, intra-State and inter-State movement of stranded persons by bus and train, will continue to be allowed.
What States can do now?
- Under the new guidelines of lockdown 4.0, States and UTs will decide upon Red, Green, and Orange zones taking into consideration the parameters shared by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). Each State will have to decide and declare their guidelines and norms regarding the same.
- The zones can be a district or a municipal corporation/ municipality or even smaller administrative units such as sub-divisions, and others as decided by States and UTs.
- District authorities will demarcate the areas within the Red and Orange Zone, as Containment, and Buffer zone based on the guidelines of MoHFW.
- In the Containment Zone, only essential activities shall be permitted. No movement of persons shall be allowed, except for medical emergencies, and for maintaining the supply of essential goods and services.
- Local authorities should ensure that shops and markets are open with staggered timings to ensure social distancing. All shops should ensure six feet distance (2 gaz ki doori) among customers and also not permit more than five persons at one time.
The movement of individuals shall remain strictly prohibited between 7 pm to 7 am except for essential goods activities.
Protection for vulnerable persons
Who are vulnerable persons?
Persons above 65, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years shall stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and health purposes.
- All activities to be permitted except those which are expressly prohibited
- All other activities will be permitted except those which are specifically prohibited under the guidelines provided by MoHFW. However, in containment zones, only essential activities shall be allowed, as mentioned earlier.
The lockdown almost completed 55 days of nationwide lockdown, and with extension, the already suffering Indian economic condition and livelihood are put into question. Telangana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Mizoram had already extended the lockdown until May 31 before PM Modi announced on May 17.
The pandemic worst hits Maharashtra, housing the financial capital of India – Mumbai. More than 30,500 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the State so far. Currently, India has around 56,500 active cases with above 3,000 deaths, and experts believe that the number is expected to increase in the coming days.