NEW DELHI :
Continuing its attempt to provide fillip to the economy whilst combating the spread of covid-19, the Union government on Sunday announced an extension to the ongoing lockdown till 31 May.
While the government has now opened up red zones to economic activities, containment zones will continue to remain out of bounds to all non-essential movement. At the same time, even as air transport and metro services continue to remain suspended, the Centre has now given the go-ahead for the inter and intra state movement of passenger vehicles and buses across the country, except in containment zones.
This is the fourth phase of the ongoing nationwide lockdown, which was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March. While the previous phase of the lockdown witnessed a considerable relation in norms in orange and green zones, the Centre has, this time round, opened up the country to economic activities, in tandem with its initiative to open up the economy after a two-month hiatus.
While the movement of inter and intra state passenger vehicles and buses has been allowed, the centre has said that state governments will take a call on the “delineation of red, green and orange zones, after taking into consideration parameters" shared by the Union health ministry.
As per the guidelines issued by the Union home ministry on Sunday, along with air and metro rail transport, schools, restaurants, cinema halls, and shopping malls will continue to remain closed.
While the Union government had earlier forbidden any non-essential movement in Red zones, it has now stated that within red and orange zones, “containment and buffer zones will be demarcated by the district authorities after taking into consideration the guidelines of MoHFW."
Even though containment zones will be restricted to only essential services, along with strict perimeter control, the MHA has asked for states to continue aggressive contact tracing and house-to-house surveillance in these areas. However, keeping with its earlier guidelines, the Centre has stated that the curfew which was earlier observed from 7pm to 7am, wherein no movement was permitted, will continue to remain in force across the country.
While the implementation of the guidelines is now the prerogative of the states, the Centre has stated categorically that “all other activities will be permitted, except those which are specifically prohibited," in non-containment zones.
At the same time, the ministry has also stated that guidelines for repatriation of Indians stranded abroad, along with the movement of essential and non-essential goods across state borders will continue. Simultaneously, the movement of migrant workers across states will also continue.
However, even as government and private offices had earlier opened to activity, subject to social distancing and sanitation norms, the Centre has stated that the “practice of work from home should be followed."