[COVID-19 Lockdown extension] MHA notifies guidelines on relaxations that may be introduced in a phased manner from April 20

[COVID-19 Lockdown extension] MHA notifies guidelines on relaxations that may be introduced in a phased manner from April 20

Bar & Bench

Following the extension of the COVID-19 lockdown yesterday until May 3, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued revised guidelines on how the country would function during this lockdown.

Among these guidelines are permissions granted for certain additional activities from April 20 onwards, to mitigate the hardship caused to the public.

These guidelines are to be operationalised by State/UT/District administrations. The respective administrations are also to ensure that social distancing is enforced before allowing the relaxations.

Further, it is emphasised that the respective governments are not to dilute the guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 in any manner. However, stricter measures that these guidelines may be imposed, depending on local area requirements.

Regarding COVID-19 Hotspots

The revised guidelines/relaxations will not apply in containment zones demarcated by the respective State/UT/District Administrations. Highlights of the latest notification dated April 15 are as follows.

  • Areas of large COVID-19 outbreaks or significant spread i.e. Hotspots will be determined as per Union Health Ministry and Central government guidelines.

  • In hotspots, containment zones will be demarcated by states/UTs/District administrations as per Union Health Ministry guidelines

  • Stricter control measures will operate in these areas to ensure there is no unchecked movement of people inward/outward, except for maintaining essential services and government business continuity. Activities allowed under the revised guidelines will not be permitted.

Activities that remain prohibited until May 3

  • All air travel, domestic or international; train travel (except for security purposes); public bus travel; metro rail services

  • Inter-district and inter-state movement, except for medical reasons or exempted activities

  • Educational, training, coaching institutions etc.

  • Industrial and commercial activities, other than those exempted

  • Hospitality services, other than those specifically permitted under the guidelines

  • Taxis and services of cab aggregators

  • Cinemas, malls, shopping complexes, gyms, swimming pools, entertainment parks, bars, auditoriums and similar places

  • Social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious functions/ other gatherings

  • Religious places and places of worship will be closed fo public. Religious congregations are strictly prohibited

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

Select, permitted activities allowed from April 20

It may be noted that the concerned governments have been instructed that these additional activities should be allowed in a phased manner, and in strict adherence to the restrictions already notified. The additional activities to be permitted as per Wendesday's notification include the following:

  • All health services (including AYUSH) to remain functional, the specifics of which have been outlined in the notification. This includes hospitals, veterinary hospitals, pharmacies, construction of medical infrastructure including manufacture of ambulance and movement (inter and intra State, including by air) of medical personnel, scientists, nurses, para medical staff, lab technicians, mid-wives and other hospital support services including ambulances.

  • All agricultural and horticultural activities, which have been further detailed in the notification.

  • Fisheries operations which have been specified in the notification.

  • Activities in plantations with a maximum of 50% workers. The permitted operations include those of tea, coffee and rubber, and the processing, packaging, sale and marketing of tea, coffee, rubber and cashew (with the specified 50% workforce).

  • Certain activities concerning the Animal husbandry sector including those concerning milk collection, milk products, poultry farms and hatcheries, livestock farming, animal feed manufacturing, feed plants and operation of animal shelter homes including gaushalas.

  • In the Financial Sector, the following are to remain functional: RBI and RBI regulated financial markets and entities; bank branches, ATMs, IT vendors for banking operations, banking correspondents, ATM operation and cash management agencies; SEBI, capital and debt market services notified by SEBI; IRDAI and insurance companies.

  • In the Social sector, homes for children, the disabled, mentally challenged, senior citizens, destitute, women, widows; observation homes, after care homes etc. are to remain functional.

  • Also permitted is the disbursement of social security pensions, pension and provident fund services by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation and the operation of Anganwadis as far as the distribution of food at the doorsteps for beneficiaries is concerned. The beneficiaries will not attend the Anganwadis

  • Online teaching/distance learning to be encouraged.

  • MNREGA works are allowed with strict implementation of social distancing and face mask. Priority to be given to irrigation and water works.

  • Public utilities that would remain functioning include oil and gas; power distribution; postal services, water, sanitation and waste management; telecommunications and internet services.

  • Certain activities concerning the movement, loading/unloading of goods/cargo (inter and intra state) are allowed in terms specified in the notification.

  • Supply of essential goods allowed, provided strict social distancing is followed. Notably, establishments having essential goods can operate without any time restrictions on opening and closing, provided social distancing is strictly followed. District authorities may encourage and facilitate home deliver to minimise movement of people outside their homes.

  • Commercial and private establishments listed in the notification are allowed to operate. These include print and electronic media; IT and IT enabled services with 50% strength; Data and call centres for government activities only; government approved Common Services Centres at the Gram Panchayat level; E-Commerce companies; courier services; cold storage and warehousing activities; private security services; hotels/homestays etc. accommodating stranded tourists; establishments earmarked for quarantine; services provided by self-employed persons such as electricians, IT repairs, plumbers, motor mechanics and carpenters.

  • Certain industries (both government and private) and construction activities have been allowed to operate. The details regarding which categories have been exempted is specified in the notification.

  • Private vehicles may be used to emergency services or procurement of essential commodities, where only one passenger besides the driver is permitted in the backseat if it is a four wheeler. In case of two-wheelers, only the driver is permitted. Persons travelling for work exempted by the government from the lockdown will move as per the instructions of the local authority.

  • Offices of the Central Government and the State Government/UT Government and subordinate bodies will remain open as detailed in the notification. Certain departments would only have restricted functioning. Notably, police, home guards, civil defence, fire, emergency services, disaster management, prisons and. Municipal services will function without any restrictions.

  • Persons violating mandatory quarantine will be liable for legal action under Section 188 of the IPC. Quarantined persons, who have arrived in India after February 15, following the expiry of their quarantine period and after being tested negative for COVID-19 will be released as per MHA protocol.

Spitting in public places shall be punishable with fine - Home Ministry Guidelines
Spitting in public places shall be punishable with fine - Home Ministry Guidelines

National Directives for COVID-19 Management

In Public spaces

  • Face masks compulsory in all public and work places;

  • Social distancing to be ensured;

  • No organisation shall allow gathering of more than 5 persons;

  • Marriages, funerals to be regulated by District Magistrate;

  • Spitting in public spaces punishable with a fine;

  • Strict ban on sale of liquor, gutka, tobacco etc.

Work spaces

  • Adequate measures to be provided for temperature screening, sanitisers should be kept in convenient places;

  • Workplaces shall have a gap of one hour between shifts and will stagger the lunch breaks of staff, to ensure social distancing;

  • Persons above 65 years of age and persons with co-morbidities and parents of children below 5 years of age to be encouraged to stay home;

  • Use of Arogya Setu app will be encouraged for all employees;

  • Organisation to sanitise their work places between shifts;

  • Large meetings to be prohibited.

Similar guidelines have been issued for the operation of manufacturing establishments apart from a Standard Operating Procedure for social distancing in offices, workplace, factories and establishments.

[Read the full MHA Order below]

MHA Order dt 15.04.2020, with Revised Consolidated GUidelines.pdf
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