As revised guidelines for the nationwide coronavirus lockdown came into effect from Monday, leading to easing of restrictions to mitigate economic hardships, several states permitted industrial activity, MNREGA work and government office functioning outside the containment zones. However, Karnataka joined Delhi, Telangana and Punjab in opting not to ease the lockdown restrictions till May 3 on a day India reported 1,553 fresh cases — the biggest single-day spike.
Meanwhile, in a communication to chief secretaries of state governments and Union Territory administrations, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said some states and UTs were issuing orders allowing activities that have not been allowed as per the guidelines issued by the Home Ministry under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The situation is “especially serious” in Mumbai, Pune, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata and a few other places in West Bengal, the letter said.
Here is how different states are offering lockdown restrictions:
The Ministry of Home Affairs shot a letter to the Kerala government over its decisions to allow opening of restaurants, bus travel in cities and opening of MSME industries in urban areas, saying it amounted to dilution of lockdown guidelines and also a Supreme Court observation.
However, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government said there was some “misunderstanding” due to which the Centre had objected to dilution of the lockdown protocol.
In non-hotspot areas, the state guidelines allow services of domestic helps, opening of barber shops (non-AC and without cosmetic and beauty therapies), dine-in restaurants (till 7 pm), and local workshops, repair shops for electrical/electronic gadgets and machines. None of these found any mention in national guidelines. In fact, dine-in restaurants and domestic helps are understood to be prohibited.
The MHA letter also said the government has also failed to abide by the regulations by allowing bus travel in towns, pillion rider on two-wheelers and two passengers in the back seat of a car.
Contrary to the Centre’s guidelines that all public transport, barring those engaged in carrying healthcare workers or essential services, would be prohibited, Kerala has banned only “inter-district and inter-state” public transport. This would mean plying of public transport within a district (not falling in the Red Zone of COVID containment) would be permitted.
The Karnataka Cabinet on Monday decided to continue the lockdown measures currently in force in the state till May 3 without any relaxation. However, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and the COVID-19 Task Force will meet
in three or four days to review and take further decision about any relaxation.
“Today cabinet has decided it (the norms) will be extended up to May 3…there will be no relaxation and the situation that that exists as of today will continue,” PTI quoted Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy as saying.
* Uttar Pradesh
After Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held a video conference with respective district magistrates, the administration in Lucknow, Agra and Firozabad have decided against giving any kind of relaxation during the continued lockdown.
Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Jay Pratap Singh said Noida was a sensitive area and the public need to be more cautious about the Covid-19 pandemic. “From Monday onwards, there will be some relaxations for industrialists and essential services but the need of the hour is to strictly follow the guidelines of the lockdown which has now been extended till May 3,” PTI quoted Singh as saying.
District officials have been asked to work out the modalities regarding opening of specified industries, banks and other units in 56 districts that have reported less than 10 coronavirus cases.
Lucknow District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash told PTI since the state capital had a large number of hotspots and COVID-19 patients, the lockdown would continue as before. Only emergency services are functioning as before and the state secretariat is functioning partially with some conditions.
In Firozabad, district authorities are strictly maintaining the lockdown and the hotspot areas are completely sealed off with no new activity being allowed anywhere from Monday. Similarly, there is also no relaxation in in Agra with police in large numbers patrolling the streets and lanes.
The government has directed that eleven industries, including steel, refineries, cement, chemicals, fertilizers, garments (excluding apparel), foundries, paper, tyre, common effluent treatment plants and sugar mills can start operations with certain conditions. However, only the manufacturing and industrial units have been permitted to function and not their headquarters or administrative offices.
The Punjab government has ruled out any relaxation in the curfew till May 3 barring wheat procurement. Following a meeting between Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and senior officers, all exemptions given from April 20 to industries in rural areas, booksellers, dhabas, shopkeepers dealing in air-conditioners and those involved in sand and gravel mining and stone crushing have been withdrawn.
The state government had allowed booksellers, dhabas, shops selling air-conditioners, coolers, fans; and those dealing in sand and gravel mining and stone crushing to operate. Amarinder Singh also ordered strict enforcement of the curfew in all districts with no relaxation or concessions whatsoever even during Ramzan beginning this week.
With the total number of Covid-19 cases crossing the 2,000-mark in the national capital, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Delhi government would not relax the lockdown for at least a week. An order by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev said the administration would review the situation on April 27.
The Delhi Police issued an advisory to its personnel, instructing them not to allow “additional activities” till a further comprehensive assessment is done by the city government. Meanwhile, all Central government officers of the deputy secretary level and above joined office from Monday.
The Telangana government has extended the lockdown in the state till May 7. Stating that the night curfew and lockdown restrictions will be implemented very strictly, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao warned people of all faiths not to hold religious gatherings or converge at religious places.
“No relaxation will be given in Telangana,” he said, adding the decision was taken in the interest of public health. The state cabinet will meet on May 5 to take further decisions after reassessing the COVID-19 situation.
In Maharashtra, certain manufacturing units and other establishments in industrial estates, industrial townships, special economic zones and export oriented units in non-containment zones starting functioning from Monday.
Mumbai has also been allowed a few activities from Monday, including work at infrastructure projects and weddings, only if these are outside designated containment zones and follow strict safety procedures against coronavirus.
Guidelines issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said other than essential services — medical and grocery stores — fisheries and related work, cable services, DTH and call centres can resume work in non-containment areas, with minimum staff.
E-commerce platforms, too, have been allowed to resume deliveries of electric appliances in the city, while restaurants allowed to function with take-away services. The civic body has also permitted marriage functions with some restrictions.
* West Bengal
On Monday, the Home Ministry sent Inter-ministerial central teams (IMCT) to several districts of West Bengal to assess lockdown violations. The Centre said some districts in West Bengal were in red and orange zones and the Covid-19 situation was “especially serious”.
The MHA order mentioned the nature of the violations as: incidents of violence on frontline healthcare professionals, complete violations of social distancing norms outside banks, PDS shops etc, and in market places, movement of private and commercial vehicles with passengers in urban vehicles and so on.
Some 1000-odd industrial units started functioning from Monday in the state after necessary permissions for re-opening were granted by the administration. Of these, a majority are from the MSME sector that rely on local workforce to run their operations.
The Manipur cabinet on Monday decided to exempt 15 sectors from the purview of the lockdown from April 21 to May 3. The decision was taken in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs to mitigate the hardship being faced by the public in the state due to the lockdown.
As many as 23 agendas were discussed during the Cabinet meeting, with exit plan for the lockdown as the main focus. The Cabinet has decided to allow retail grocery shops to remain open in all the districts from 6 am to 2 pm on weekdays. Wearing of mask has been made mandatory besides strictly following social distancing.
The government also decided to allow farming operations in rural areas and agencies engaged in procurement of agricultural produce. Moreover, 33 per cent of government employees will attend office on rotation basis.
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