The Union Home Ministry on Tuesday allowed opening of shops selling educational books and electric fans, services of bedside attendants of senior citizens and public utilities, including recharge facilities for prepaid mobile phones during the ongoing lockdown. The home ministry also said bread factories and flour mills located in urban areas can restart operations during the ongoing lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak.
In separate orders, the home ministry said the decision has been taken after receiving some queries with regard to exemptions of specific services and activities allowed through the guidelines issued so far. Shops of educational books for students, shops of electric fans will be allowed to open during the lockdown, which is scheduled to end on May 3.
Bedside attendants and care givers of senior citizens residing in their homes and public utilities, including recharge facilities for prepaid mobile connection will be allowed to offer services, the ministry said in its order. Food processing units such as bread factories, milk processing plants, flour mills, dal mills etc., located in urban areas will be allowed to function during the lockdown.
Facilities for export or import such as pack houses, inspection and treatment facilities for seeds and horticulture produce, research establishments dealing with the agriculture and horticulture activities have been exempted from the purview of the lockdown.
Inter and intra-state movement of planting materials and honey bee colonies, honey and other beehive products will also be allowed to function, the order said. Forest offices, forestry plantation and related activities, including silviculture operations, are allowed during the lockdown.
However, the ministry made it clear that social distancing for offices, workshops, factories and establishments must be ensured. The home ministry also allowed sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers at Indian ports and their movement for the aforesaid purpose as per a standard operating protocol (SOP).
It said that change of crew of a ship (seafarers) is an important measure for operation of merchant ships. The SOP has been formulated to streamline the sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers at Indian ports for merchant shipping vessels, the ministry added.
For sign-on, the ship owner or recruitment and placement service (RPS) agency will identify the Indian seafarers for joining a vessel. The seafarers will intimate their travel and contact history for the last 28 days to the ship owner or RPS agency by email, as per procedure laid down by Director General of Shipping (DGS).
The seafarer would be examined by a DGS-approved medical examiner, as per the guidelines prescribed for this purpose. At the same time, the seafarer shall also be screened, and his travel and contact history examined for the last 28 days; seafarers found to be asymptomatic for COVID-19 and otherwise suitable may be processed for sign-on.
The local authority in the area where the seafarer resides will be intimated about his clearance for sign-on and for issue of a transit pass from the place of residence to the place of embarkation on the shipping vessel.