India Lockdown 3.0 Till May 17: More Relaxations Zone-Wise!

The biggest lockdown of the world has just got its third extension with the Government of India announcing this with a host of relaxation of curbs across the zones. The first lockdown of 21 days was extended on 14th April, 2020 to 3rd May, 2020 and now Lockdown 2.0 has been extended by another 2 weeks till 17th May, 2020. This decision was on expected lines as the new COVID cases and new deaths were rising in the last few days, and the only speculation was about how much easing of curbs will be allowed. At present, India has 130 red zones, 284 orange zones and 319 green zones. Easing of the curbs as per the zones is of paramount importance to ensure the plummeting economy does not suffer irreparable damage.

First, the basic nation-wide list of activities not allowed irrespective of zones: schools, colleges and educational institutions to remain shut; no air, rail and metro transport services; no inter-state movement except for trucks carrying goods; no cabs, auto-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws: hotels, restaurants, eateries, resorts to remain shut; cinema halls, malls, gyms and other places of mass gathering to remain shut; no public religious worship, social and entertainment gatherings; market complexes, barber shops and salons to remain shut; and no non-essential movement of persons from 7 pm to 7 am every day.

Second, relaxations in the red zones: agricultural work; rural and urban construction work with the condition that workers remain on the sites; private companies can work with 33% attendance and for government offices only senior officers can attend with minimum supporting staff; OPD facilities except for containment zones; e-commerce allowed only for essentials while sale of non-essentials being allowed; neighborhood standalone shops including the liquor and paan shops can open with the condition that not more than 5 persons can be present at a time, not those shops that are part of malls or market complexes.

Third, naturally, all those relaxations will also be valid for orange and green zones. Additionally for orange zones cabs with not more than two passengers and bikes without a pillion-rider will be allowed to ply. For green zones public buses with 50% of capacity passengers will be allowed and inter-district movement will also be allowed under monitoring.

More clarity and more detailed guidelines are expected anytime tonight or tomorrow. The Indian states had been insisting with the central government for the opening of liquor and other non-essential shops for the primary reason of being able to earn some much-needed revenues. The opening of neighborhood shops will also help the petty shopkeepers survive, after the deadly blows delivered by the two earlier lockdowns.  The states have also been demanding funds from the central government to implement COVID work, and with stimulus package not being announced yet the crisis looks far from over.  

Meanwhile Indian Railways in close coordination with various state governments has decided to transport the stranded migrant workers to their home states; the first two non-stop trains having started already. A few states had earlier started the work with buses not only to shift migrant workers, but also stranded students and other persons stranded outside their own states for essential work. The biggest lockdown now stretching to at least 54 days the need to achieve a victory against the killer virus becomes all the more desperate. 


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