Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation on April 14, 2020, declared that the lockdown in India will have to be extended till May 3, 2020, with a view to arrest the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Prime Minister also declared that select necessary activities will be allowed to be opened up from April 20, 2020, in identified areas of the country.
In pursuance of the announcements of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued another order to allow select additional activities in areas not demarcated as containment zones by States/ UTs/ District Administrations.
The objective of the revised guidelines is to consolidate the gains achieved during the 1st phase of lockdown and further slow down the spread of Covid 19 and at the same time provide relief to farmers, labourers and daily wage earners.
The activities prohibited across the country include travel by air, rail and road; operation of educational and training institutions; industrial and commercial activities; hospitality services; all cinema halls, shopping complexes, theatres, etc., all social, political and other events, and opening of all religious places/ places of worship for members of public, including religious congregations.
There are certain national guidelines like mandatory home-made face covers at workplaces and in public places, strong hygiene and health care measures like provision of sanitizers, staggered shifts, access control, thermal screening and imposing fines for spitting etc. penalties will be imposed for the violation.
Manufacturing and other industrial establishments with access control have been permitted in SEZs, EoUs, industrial estates and industrial townships after implementation of SOP for social distancing. Manufacture of IT hardware and of essential goods and packaging are also allowed. Coal, mineral, and oil production are permitted activities.
It is expected that the industrial and manufacturing sectors will see a revival with these measures, and will create job opportunities while maintaining safety protocols and social distancing. At the same time, the important components of the financial sector, e.g., RBI, banks, ATMs, capital and debt markets as notified by SEBI and insurance companies will also remain functional, with a view to provide enough liquidity and credit support to the industrial sectors.
Digital economy is critical to the services sector and is important for national growth. Accordingly, e-commerce operations, operations of IT and IT enabled services, data and call centres for Government activities, and online teaching and distance learning are all permitted activities now.
The revised guidelines also permit all health services and the social sector to remain functional; public utilities to function without any hindrance; the supply chain of essential goods to operate without any hindrance; and, important offices of Central and State Governments and local bodies to remain open with required strength.
In sum, the revised consolidated guidelines are aimed at operating those sectors of the economy which are critical from the perspective of rural and agricultural development and job creation, while maintaining strict protocols in areas where safety is paramount to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
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Image source- AIR