A day after “select necessary activities” were allowed to be open, the Ministry of Home Affairs Tuesday issued new guidelines for the nationwide lockdown extended till May 3 to contain the transmission of the novel coronavirus.
In its revised list, the government has exempted additional agricultural and forestry items, shops of educational books for students and shops of electric fans from lockdown restrictions, besides allowing inter and intra state movement of planting materials and honey bee colonies, honey and other beehive products. The new list of exemptions also include sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers at Indian ports and their movement.
In its last revised order on April 19, the government had revoked its April 15 order to restrict e-commerce to essential goods and groceries only.
On April 15, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension in the nationwide lockdown till May 3, the government released revised guidelines under which activities like agriculture, Information Technology, and movement of trucks and goods carriers were to be allowed from April 20 to “mitigate hardships to public.”
Under the revised guidelines, the exemptions from the lockdown have also been granted to all health services, financial services, MNREGA works, public utilities, the supply of goods, e-commerce and cargo services. The government has also made face masks mandatory in public as well as work spaced and also emphasised on practising social distancing.
A day later, the Centre issued an addendum to its instructions allowing certain more activities in sectors of agriculture, banking and rural construction.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had then included “collection, harvesting and processing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP)/ Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) by Scheduled Tribes and other forest dwellers in forest areas” in the list of exemptions. Under the head of “Plantation”, it further allowed sowing, harvesting, processing, packaging, sale and marketing of “Bamboo, Coconut, Arecanut, Cocoa, Spices”.
The total number of coronavirus cases has neared 19,000 as of April 21, including 602 deaths and 3,259 recoveries. On Tuesday, the government said the rate at which India was doubling the case numbers had slowed down considerably after the lockdown had been put in place.
The week before the lockdown, which was imposed on March 24, India’s doubling rate was almost 3.4 days, meaning the total number of positive cases were doubling every four days. The growth of numbers in the last seven days, however, suggest that the doubling rate had gone down to 7.5 days.