Centre releases new lockdown guidelines till May 3, with relaxations from April 20

A decision will be taken on easing restrictions after April 20

Gujarat police personnel stand guard at the closed Nehru Bridge in Ahmedabad during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown | AFP Gujarat police personnel stand guard at the closed Nehru Bridge in Ahmedabad during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown | AFP

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on Wednesday, released fresh guidelines for the COVID-19 lockdown, which has been extended till May 3. Additional public activities will be allowed from April 20, like agriculture, horticulture activities and procurement of the same. The guidelines mandate closing of some Central, state government offices, commercial, private establishments, industrial establishments and all transport services. The guideline also mandates the appointment of incident commanders responsible for the overall implementation of these measures.

Addressing the country on Tuesday, PM Modi announced that the COVID-19 lockdown will be extended till May 3. A decision will be taken on easing restrictions after April 20. "Till April 20, all districts, localities, states will be closely monitored, as to how strictly they are implementing norms. We will have to keep a close watch on the places which are expected to be converted into hotspots. The creation of new hotspots will further challenge our hard work and our austerity," he had said. 

Some of the guidelines:

1. Offices under the Central government, its autonomous/ subordinate offices and public corporations will remain closed, with the exceptions of defence, central armed police forces, treasury, public utilities (including petroleum, CNG, LPG, PNG), power generation and transmission units and post offices. Others like Customs, Reserve Bank of India and RBI-regulated financial markets and entities like NPCI, CCIL will operate with minimum staff.

2. Offices under the state/ union territory governments will remain closed with the exceptions of police, home guards, civil defence, fire and emergency services, disaster management, and prisons, electricity, water, sanitation, municipal bodies.

3. Hospitals, veterinary hospitals and all related medical establishments, including their manufacturing and distribution units, both in public and private sector, such as dispensaries, chemist, pharmacies (including Jan Aushadhi Kendra) and medical equipment shops, laboratories, pharmaceutical research labs, clinics, nursing homes, ambulance etc. will continue to remain functional.

4. From April 20, additional activities will be allowed "to mitigate hardship on the public". Farming operations, procurement activities and mandis organised by the state will be operational.

5. From April 20, pharmaceutical research activities and manufacturing of drugs, medical devices will be operational. 

6. Inter-state, inter-district movement of people, metro, bus services continue to be prohibited till May 3

7. Cinema halls, malls, shopping complexes, gymnasiums, sports complexes, swimming pools, bars to remain closed till May 3.

8. Commercial and private establishments shall be closed down, with the exceptions of shops, including ration shops (under PDS), dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, animal fodder, fertilisers, seeds and pesticides.

9. Banks, insurance offices, and ATMs including IT vendors for banking operations, print and electronic media can function, along with the delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment through e-commerce.

10. Industrial establishments will remain closed with the exceptions of manufacturing units of essential goods, medical devices, their raw materials.

11. All transport services—air, rail, roadways—will remain suspended with the exceptions of transportation for essential goods, fire, law and order and emergency services, operations of Railways, Airports and Seaports for cargo movement, relief and evacuation and their related operational organisations. 

12. Taxis and cab aggregators will be prohibited. 

13. All educational, training, research, coaching institutions etc. shall remain closed.

14. All places of worship shall be closed for public. No religious congregations will be permitted, without any exception.

15. All social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions / gatherings will be barred.

16. In case of funerals, congregation of not more than twenty persons will be permitted.

In order to implement these containment measures, according to the guidelines, the district magistrate will deploy executive magistrates as incident commanders in the respective local jurisdictions. The incident commander will be responsible for the overall implementation of these measures in their respective jurisdictions. All other line department officials in the specified area will work under the directions of such incident commander. The incident commander will issue passes for enabling essential movements as explained. The incident commanders will in particular ensure that all efforts for mobilisation of resources, workers and material for augmentation and expansion of hospital infrastructure shall continue without any hindrance. Any person violating these containment measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, besides legal action under Sec. 188 of the IPC.