The Home Ministry has asked all states and union territories to ensure strict implementation of lockdown guidelines to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, failing which relaxations, which are likely to be announced on April 20, to mitigate hardships would be withdrawn.
The guidelines were issued by the ministry on Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 3 to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, in a letter to all chief secretaries of states and administrators of union territories, called for strict implementation of the consolidated revised guidelines.
“The activities allowed under the consolidated revised guidelines will be withdrawn immediately if any of the lockdown measures are violated, risking the spread of COVID-19. All entities, in the government and private sectors, and members of the public should follow the guidelines strictly,” Bhalla said in his order.
Under the new guidelines, select additional activities will be permitted from April 20 to mitigate hardship to the public during the lockdown which is now stretched from the initial 21 days to 40 days.
“These additional activities will be operationalised by States/Union Territories (UTs)/District Administrations based on strict compliance to the existing guidelines on lockdown measures.
“Before operating these relaxations, States/UTs/District Administrations shall ensure that all preparatory arrangements with regard to social distancing in offices, workplaces, factories and establishments, as also other sectoral requirements are in place,” Bhalla said.
The home secretary, who is also the chairperson of the National Executive Committee under the Disaster Management Act, made it clear that the activities mentioned in the consolidated revised guidelines (para 5 to para 20) shall not apply in containment zones within hotspots demarcated by states, UTs and district administrations as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“If any new area is included in the category of a containment zone, (all) the activities allowed in that area till the time of its categorisation as a containment zone, will be suspended except for those activities which are specifically permitted under the consolidated revised guidelines,” he said.
Bhalla said the states and union territories cannot dilute any of the lockdown guidelines announced by the ministry to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
“States/UTs may, however, impose stricter measures than these guidelines as per the requirement of the local areas,” he said.