New Delhi (IANS): The Centre on Sunday extended the nationwide novel coronavirus lockdown by two more weeks from May 18 while easing curbs in areas with limited virus infection to boost the economy.
The nationwide lockdown 4.0 will end on May 31, said a National Disaster Management (NDMA) order, which came after Punjab, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu already announced the extension till the month-end.
All other activities will be permitted, except those which are specifically prohibited, the guidelines said. This means barber shops may open in the new lockdown and the guidelines this time did not categorise red, orange and green zones and left their delineation to the states.
However, in containment zones, only essential activities shall be allowed. Within the red and orange zones, containment zones and buffer zones will be demarcated by the district authorities. In the containment zones, only essential activities shall be allowed.
Red, orange and green zones are classified based on their risk profiles.
Green zones are districts that have had no confirmed cases till date, or none in the past 21 days.
Red zones are identified on the basis of total number of active cases, the doubling rate of confirmed cases, the extent of testing and surveillance feedback from the districts.
A district which is neither green or red will be classified as an orange zone, according to the government order.
Contrary to expectations, Metro services, all domestic and international air travel of passengers will continue to remain suspended. Only domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance and flights for security purposes as permitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be allowed.
Education sectors, hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services will also remain prohibited in the fourth phase of the lockdown to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Restaurants and hotels meant for providing services to police, government officials, healthcare workers, stranded persons, tourists, and those living in quarantine facilities will be allowed, while restaurants shall be permitted to operate kitchens for home delivery of food items.
As per the fresh guidelines issued by the MHA, all cinema halls, shopping malls, gymnasium, assembly halls and similar places will remain closed but sport complexes and stadiums will be permitted to open, but with no entry for spectators.
While restrictions will continue on all social, political and religious gatherings, marriage-related gatherings with not more than 50 people have been allowed by following social distancing norms.
Gatherings related to funerals shall ensure people present do not exceed more than 20, as per the guidelines.
Consumption of paan, gutka and tobacco in public will remain prohibited. Spitting in a public place will be punishable with a fine as per the prescribed rules, it said.
Shops will ensure a minimum of six feet distance among customers and shall not allow more than five persons at a time.
Night curfew will stay between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and the movement of individuals will not be allowed in this time frame, except essential services. Persons above 65 years, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below 10 years shall stay at homes, the guideline says.
The practice of work from home should be followed as far as possible, the guideline reads, adding staggering work and business hours shall be followed in offices, work places, shops and commercial establishments.
The Standard Operating Protocols (SOP) on transit arrangements for foreign nationals in India; Indians stranded outside India; movement of stranded labourers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons within states and Union Territories; sign-on and sign-off of India seafarers; and movement of persons by trains will continue.
Special direction has been given in the guideline to ensure inter-state and intra-state movement of medical professionals, sanitation workers, and all types of goods vehicles, including empty trucks. It is mentioned in the guideline that no state or UT will stop the movement of any type of goods or cargo for cross land-border trade.
The guidelines also stress ensuring that Aarogya Setu app is downloaded on the mobile phones of all employees.
Considering the fact that the lockdown measures need to be implemented for a further period in the country to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, the National Disaster Managment Authority directed the ministries, departments of Indian government and states to continue the lockdown measures up to May 31.
The authorities further directed departments concerned to issue modifications in the guidelines as necessary, keeping in view the need to open up economic activities while containing the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The extension came amid considerable relaxations being introduced in non-containment zones across the country and as the lockdown 3.0 was to end on Sunday midnight. This is the third extension to the lockdown, which was first imposed from March 25 and then extended from April 15 and May 4.