Selective relaxation in non-containment areas

Selective relaxation in non-containment areas
NEW DELHI, APR 19 | Publish Date: 4/19/2020 12:35:07 PM IST

Selective relaxation will be given in non-containment areas from April 20, but strict restrictions will continue in districts declared COVID-19 hotspots, the government said on Sunday.

Addressing a daily media briefing to give updates on the novel coronavirus situation in the country, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said some activities in agricultural sector and rural economy would be permitted as part of ensuring “Jaan bhi hai jahan bhi hai (life and wellbeing)”. He also said a high-level task force to work on frontiers of science related to vaccines and drug testing was formed on Sunday.

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has readied a standard operating procedure (SOP) to be followed– from April 20 onwards– for partial lifting of the nationwide lockdown– with a stress on augmenting rural economy, and opening those industrial units which don’t come within the COVID-19 affected hotspots and containment areas.

Agarwal said that containment areas in coronavirus hotspots will not get the relaxations.

States and Union Territories may impose measures which are even more stringent than Centre’s guidelines, according to local requirements, he said.

Hotspots or red zones are those areas where either there are large numbers of COVID-19 cases or the doubling rate of infection is less than four days, Agarwal explained.

“In these hotspots, local administrations delineate containment zones and buffer zones to control spread of the disease. No relaxations are permitted in these containment zones,” he said, adding strict perimeter control will be continued and nothing except essential services will be allowed there.

“Activities to be prohibited till May 3, even in cases of relaxation, are primarily passenger traffic movement by air, rail and road, educational institutions, industrial commercial activities and hospitality services unless they are specifically exempted,” the health ministry official said.

Along with these, cinema halls, malls, shopping complexes, entertainment parks will be closed while social, political, cultural, religious or academic and sports gatherings continue to remain prohibited, he said. Relaxation will be there for agricultural activities, daily-wage earners and employment opportunities for some to be monitored, health services to be functional and supply of essential goods to continue, Agarwal said.

As per the SOP issued on April 19, migrant labourers who have been staying in various camps in towns and cities can be facilitated to reach those industrial units which have been given permission to operate within certain restrictions for their employment. She said even in such circumstances, restrictions such as social distancing must be strictly followed. Preference would be given to those units where there is a facility to provide lodging to the labourers.

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