As promised by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his national broadcast on April 14, the Ministry of Home Affairs partially lifted the countrywide lockdown and issued detailed guidelines today on what state governments, Union Territories and the public can or cannot do during the extended lockdown period till May 3.
In a 15-page notification, and what was widely expected, the government has provided some relief to the industrial sector, with manufacturing units and industries functioning from special economic zones (SEZs) permitted to operate during the lockdown.
While announcing the relief measures, the government made it clear that these guidelines will not be allowed to be diluted and permitted state governments to impose stricter measures as per the local requirements.
The government has allowed industries functioning in rural areas, those outside the municipal areas, to resume operations from April 20, but with strict social distancing norms. Manufacturing and industrial establishments functioning in SEZs and export oriented units (EOU), industrial estates, and industrial townships have been allowed to resume operations after April 20. These establishments will have to make special arrangements for the stay and transport of its workers. For manufacturing units producing essential goods such as medicines it will be business as usual.
The government has exempted the following activities from April 20 in areas that are not coronavirus hotspots: farming, horticulture, procurement of agricultural products, shops selling farm machinery and its spare parts, custom hiring centres, highway eating joints (dhabas), truck repair shops, and call centres for government activities. Grocery stores, fruits and vegetables sellers, milk booths, and poultry, meat and fish shops also have been permitted to open during the lockdown. Self-employed service providers like electricians, IT repairs, plumbers, motor mechanics, and carpenters also may work from April 20.
Work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act has been allowed with strict implementation of social distancing and use of face masks. Bank branches and ATMs, IT vendors for banking operations, banking correspondents, ATM operation, and cash management agencies will be operational.
The lockdown will apply to all educational and training institutions, auto and cycle rickshaws and cabs services, cinema halls, malls, sports complexes, gyms, and bars till May 3.
Wearing of face masks will be mandatory in all public places and workplaces. Spitting in public places has been made punishable with a fine.
The lockdown also applies to all flight and train services, and all social and political functions. Places of worship, too, will remain closed till May 3.