The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday extended lockdown for two weeks with effect from May 4.
"After a comprehensive review, and in view of the Lockdown measures having led to significant gains in the COVID-19 situation in the country, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India (GoI) issued an Order under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, today, to further extend the Lockdown for a period of two weeks beyond May 4, 2020," MHA said in a press release.
The current lockdown period is scheduled to end on May 3.
MHA also issued new guidelines to regulate different activities in this period, based on the risk profiling of the districts of the country into Red (hotspot), Green and Orange Zones. The guidelines have permitted considerable relaxations in the districts falling in the Green and Orange Zones.
The ministry has said that the criteria for identification of districts as Red, Green and Orange Zones have been spelt out in detail in the letter on Thursday issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
"The Green Zones will be districts with either zero confirmed cases till date; or, no confirmed case in the last 21 days. The classification of districts as Red Zones will take into account the total number of active cases, doubling rate of confirmed cases, extent of testing and surveillance feedback from the districts," the MHA said while explaining the criteria.
"Those districts, which are neither defined as Red nor Green, shall be classified as Orange zones. The classification of districts into Red, Green and Orange Zones will be shared by MoHFW with the States and Union Territories (UTs) on a weekly basis, or earlier, as required. While States and UTs can include additional districts as Red and Orange Zones, they may not lower the classification of a district included by MoHFW in the list of Red or Orange Zones," the MHA said.
In Orange Zones, in addition to activities permitted in Red Zone, taxis and cab aggregators will be permitted with 1 driver and 2 passengers only'.
While asking the local authority to ensure 100 per cent coverage of Aarogya Setu app among the residents of the Containment Zone, the MHA said: "The most sensitive areas of the country, from the spread of COVID-19 point of view, and falling within the Red and Orange Zones, are designated as Containment Zones."
The containment areas would be defined by respective District Administrations, taking into account the total number of active cases, their geographical spread, and the need to have well-demarcated perimeters from the enforcement point of view.
"The Containment Zones would have intensified surveillance protocols, with contact tracing, house to house surveillance, home/ institutional quarantining of persons based on their risk assessment, and clinical management. Strict perimeter control would need to be ensured, so that there is no movement of people in and out of these Zones, except for medical emergencies, and for maintaining supply of essential goods and services. No other activity is permitted within the Containment Zones," MHA said.
The Home Ministry has said that a limited number of activities will remain prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the zone under the new guidelines.
"These include travel by air, rail, metro and inter-State movement by road; running of schools, colleges, and other educational and training/ coaching institutions; hospitality services, including hotels and restaurants; places of large public gatherings, such as cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes etc; social, political, cultural and other kinds of gatherings; and, religious places/ places of worship for public," read the order.
However, movement of persons by air, rail and road is allowed for select purposes, and for purposes as permitted by MHA.
According to the order, Local authorities shall issue orders under appropriate provisions of law, such as prohibitory orders [curfew] under Section 144 of CrPC, for this purpose, and ensure strict compliance.
In all zones, persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, shall stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.
Out-Patient Departments (OPDs) and Medical clinics shall be permitted to operate in Red, Orange and Green Zones, with social distancing norms and other safety precautions; however, these will not be permitted within the Containment Zones.
The new guidelines also prescribe certain measures for well-being and safety of persons, hence Movement of individuals, for all non-essential activities, shall remain strictly prohibited between 7 pm to 7 am.
The announcement came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with chief ministers last month where some of them suggested extension of lockdown.
On March 24, the Prime Minister had announced a 21-day lockdown as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown was later extended till May 3. (ANI)