The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Saturday extended the nationwide lockdown in containment zones till June 30 and issued fresh guidelines for phased re-opening of areas outside these zones. The current phase of re-opening, Unlock 1, will have an economic focus and will come into effect from June 1, and will be effective till June 30.
The MHA order dated March 24 had imposed a strict lockdown throughout the country during which only essential activities were permitted and all other activities were prohibited. Subsequently, in a graded manner and keeping the overarching objective of containing the spread of COVID-19 in view, the lockdown measures have been relaxed.
The new guidelines issued by the ministry have been based on extensive consultations held with States and UTs.
Salient features of the new guidelines
- All activities that were prohibited during Lockdown 4.0 will be opened up in areas outside Containment Zones in a phased manner, with the stipulation of following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), to be prescribed by the Health Ministry.
- In Phase 1, religious places and places of worship for public; hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services; and shopping malls; will be permitted to open from June 8. The health ministry will issue SOPs for the above activities, in consultation with the Central Ministries/Departments concerned and other stakeholders, for ensuring social distancing and to contain the spread of COVID-19.
- In Phase 2, all schools, colleges, educational/training/coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and UTs. State Governments/UT administrations have been advised to hold consultations at the institution level with parents and other stakeholders. Based on the feedback received, a decision on the re-opening of these institutions will be taken in July. The ministry will prepare and issue fresh SOPs for these institutions.
- Only a limited number of activities will remain prohibited throughout the country. These activities include international air travel, metro rail operations, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations. The dates for opening these services will be declared in Phase 3, based on assessment of the situation.
- Lockdown 5.0 shall continue to be implemented strictly in the containment zones. These will be demarcated by the State/ UT Governments, after taking into consideration the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry. Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and only essential activities will be allowed.
Unrestricted movement of persons and goods
- There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-state movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/approval/e-permit will be required for such movements.
- However, if a State/ UT, based on reasons of public health and its assessment of the situation, proposes to regulate movement of persons, it will give wide publicity in advance regarding the restrictions to be placed on such movement, and the related procedures would have to be followed.
- Night Curfew shall continue to remain in force, on the movement of individuals, for all non-essential activities. However, the revised timings of the curfew will be from 9 pm to 5 am.
National Directives for COVID-19 management
- National Directives for COVID-19 management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, with a view to ensure social distancing.
States to decide on activities outside Containment Zones
- States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain activities outside the Containment zones, or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary.
Protection for vulnerable persons
- Vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, are advised to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.
Use of Aarogya Setu
- With a view to ensure safety, various authorities have been advised to encourage the use of the Aarogya Setu application.