India’s Lockdown 4.0: We Answer FAQs Based on New Guidelines
- The lockdown in India has been extended for a third time, starting May 18 until May 31.
- While significant relaxations have been announced, certain prohibitions remain in place. For instance, educational institutions, cinema halls, and shopping malls will stay closed.
- The demarcation and identification of red, orange, green, and containment zones will be decided by the state governments and the union territories in line with the parameters issued by the health ministry.
- Non-essential movement between 7 pm and 7 am, irrespective of the zone classification, is still prohibited.
The lockdown in India, supposed to end May 17, has now been extended until May 31, 2020 as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country.
This is the third time the Indian government has extended the lockdown. Prime Minister Narendra Modi first announced a 21-day lockdown between March 25 and April 14, after which the lockdown was extended until May 3, followed by another extension until May 17.
However, under new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, considerable relaxations have been announced for individuals and businesses as the pandemic has adversely affected the Indian economy. However, certain restrictions continue to be in place, such as the suspension of travel through air and metro.
Here we will answer some frequently asked questions about the new guidelines, as well as provide a list of permitted and prohibited activities.
What will be different under ‘Lockdown 4.0’?
Unlike the previous guidelines issued by the MHA, under this phase of the lockdown, the delineation of the red, orange, and green zones will be decided by the state government and the union territories, taking into the consideration the parameters shared by the health ministry.
District authorities will identify and administer containment and buffer zones within the red and orange zones – by following guidelines from the health ministry. In case of containment zones, intensive contact tracing, house-to-house surveillance, and other clinical interventions will be carried out as needed. Physical movement and economic activity may be restricted or limited in such areas.
In the guidelines, it appears that the government has now made the Aarogya Setu App – the Bluetooth-based COVID-19 tracker introduced by the Indian government – optional. The guidelines states, “With a view to ensuring safety in offices and workplaces, employers on best effort basis should ensure that Aarogya Setu is installed by all employees having compatible mobile phones.” Further, district authorities may advise residents to install the App so that their health status can be regularly updated.
Earlier the government had made the Aarogya Setu App mandatory for all employees operating in the government and private sector, making it the responsibility of the head of the organization to meet this compliance.
All shops, barring those in containment zones and malls, will be allowed to open starting from May 18. Shops will have to ensure six feet distancing between the customers, and not more than five people will be allowed in the shop at one time.
Sports complexes and stadiums are also permitted to reopen, but no spectators will be allowed on the premises.
One major relaxation for the public – e-commerce platforms, such as Flipkart and Amazon, will now be allowed to deliver non-essential items in the red zones, except in containment zones.
What activities are permitted under India’s lockdown?
The economic and industrial activities that resumed under guidelines previously issued by the MHA, such as manufacturing plants of essential goods, operation of special economic zones (SEZs), and production units requiring continuous processing and their supply chain, among others, will continue.
While several relaxations have been introduced for the red zone, only essential activities and movement for medical emergencies will be allowed in the containment zones.
It is important to note that during Lockdown 4.0, inter-state movement of buses is allowed but only with the mutual consent of the states involved.
The below table – for reference – shows the central government’s announcement of new relaxations and restrictions during Lockdown 4.0.
What activities are prohibited?
The following activities continue to be prohibited throughout the country – irrespective of the zonal classification:
- Any large or religious gathering;
- Malls, cinema halls, gyms, and religious places/places of worship;
- Hospitality services, such as hotels and restaurants, however restaurants will be permitted to operate kitchens for food delivery;
- All domestic and international air travel, and metro services;
- Educational institutions including training and coaching institutes will remain closed;
- People above the age of 65 years, people with co-morbidities (pre-existing conditions or ailments), pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years shall stay at home; and
- Movement for non-essential activities between 7 pm and 7 am will not be allowed. (This means movement – where permitted – will only be allowed between 7 am and 7 pm.)
Will the rules be implemented differently across India?
Businesses should note that states in India will implement rules differently in terms of restrictions on and types of economic activity allowed and travel permitted. It is advised to pay attention to real-time changes in the regulations.
For example, on May 18, the Karnataka government announced that the state is allowing all four of its state transport corporation buses to operate starting tomorrow, May 19, except in the red zones and containment zones. Further, most economic activities can resume in green/orange zones, such as re-opening shops and the movement of trains within the state. However, some restrictions remain – only 30 people can travel in a bus, everyone must wear masks, and social distancing must be observed. Malls and shopping complexes will remain shut. Park will be allowed to open between 7am to 9am and between 5pm to 7pm. On Sundays, there will be a total lockdown across the state.
The major IT and services hub, Bengaluru, is the capital of Karnataka.
Meanwhile, in the capital, Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced new and slightly different guidelines to the central government’s announcement. As per Delhi government rules, private and public transport in Delhi will be allowed to resume with limitations on the number of passengers due to social distancing. For example, buses will resume but with 20 passengers allowed and after screening. Delhi metro services will not resume till May 31.
Kejriwal also stated that: “Barber shops, spas and saloons to remain closed for now. Stepping out of homes between 7 pm to 7 am, except for essential services will be prohibited. Taxis and cabs will be allowed but only two passengers at a time in a car.”
“Private offices can open at full strength but they should try that most of the staff works from home. Markets can open but shops will open on odd-even basis. Sports complexes and stadiums can open but without spectators,” he clarified.