New Guidelines for Lockdown 3.0
As on date, India is staring at approximately 33,500 active cases of COVID -19 with a total recovery rate of 28.72%. In its press release earlier today, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has stated that the Government of India is, through a graded, pre-emptive and pro-active approach, taking several steps along with the States and Union Territories for prevention, containment and management of COVID-19. Some of the key developments, since our previous update on the subject, have been set out below.
A. Lockdown 3.0
The Ministry of Home Affairs (“MHA”), on May 1, 2020, announced a further extension of the nationwide lockdown for two weeks till May 17, 2020. New guidelines for Lockdown 3.0, effective from May 4, 2020, have been issued (“MHA Guidelines”). The key takeaways from the order are mentioned below:
1. Colour coded zones: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has identified districts based on their risk profiles as green, red, and orange zones.
a. Green zones: Districts with zero confirmed cases till date; or districts with no confirmed cases in the last 21 days;
b. Red zones or hotspot districts: As identified by the MoHFW taking into account the total number of active cases, increasing rate of confirmed cases, extent of testing and surveillance feedback.
c. Orange zones: Districts neither defined as red or green zones.
The list of red zone (hotspot), orange zone and green zone districts and related information will be shared by MoHFW with the States/UTs, on a weekly basis or earlier, as required. The States/UTs, on review, may consider inclusion of additional districts as red zone (hotspots) and orange zones districts, depending on the extent of the spread of the COVID-19 infection.
2. Containment zones: States/ UTs and district administrations have been required to demarcate containment zones within the red (hotspots) and orange zones based on the MoHFW guidelines. Intensive surveillance mechanism as outlined in the Standard Operating Protocol (“SOPs”) issued by the MoHFW is to be established within the containment zone. Precautions are to be taken to ensure that no movement of people are done in and out of the red (hotspots) and orange zones, except for medical emergencies and for essential goods and services.
3. Activities which are prohibited irrespective of the zones inter alia include the following:
a. All domestic and international air travel, except for medical services, security purposes, etc.;
b. All passenger movement by trains, inter-state buses for public transport etc. except as permitted by MHA;
c. Inter-state movement of individuals except for medical reasons or for activities permitted by MHA;
d. Hospitality services other than those used for housing health/police/government officials/health care workers, stranded persons, etc.;
4. The movement of individuals for non-essential activities is strictly prohibited between 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
5. MHA Guidelines prescribe activities which are permitted in red (hotspots) [outside containment zones] subject to certain conditions. These include:
a. Industrial establishments in urban areas;
b. Manufacturing units of essential goods, including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, etc.
c. Construction activities in urban areas;
d. E-commerce activities for essential services; and
e. Private offices with up to 33% strength as per requirement, with the remaining persons working from home.
All other activities will be permitted which are not specifically prohibited/permitted with restrictions in the various zones under the MHA Guidelines.
6. Protocols to be followed by the employers inter alia include the following:
a. Ensure adequate stock of face masks and mandatory wearing of face masks;
b. Ensure social distancing through staggered lunch breaks, adequate gaps between shifts, etc. as per the guidelines issued by MoHFW;
c. Ensure provision for thermal screening, hand wash and sanitizers (preferably with touch free mechanism);
d. Ensure mandatory use of AarogyaSetu app by all employees (both private and public). The head of the respective organizations to ensure 100% coverage of this app among the employees;
e. Avoid large physical meetings;
f. Identification and availability of the list of nearby hospitals/clinics, authorized to treat COVID-19 patients; and
g. Ensure arrangement of transport facilities with adherence to social distancing measures.
B. Guidelines issued by States:
The State Governments of Maharashtra, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are amongst the states which have issued guidelines which are in consonance with the guidelines issued by MHA. Few important developments across the following states may be noted:
a. Maharashtra: The Government of Maharashtra, in addition to implementing the MHA Guidelines, has inter alia specified the following:
(i) Activities permitted with restrictions: While industrial establishments in urban areas such as Special Economic Zones (“SEZs”), Export Oriented Units (“EOUs”), industrial estates and industrial townships with access control are permitted to operate, such industries within the areas of all municipal corporations within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (“MMR”), Malegaon Municipal Corporation (“MMC”), Pune Municipal Corporation (“PMC”) and the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (“PCMC”) are not permitted to operate in the state of Maharashtra.
(ii) Functioning of private offices: While private offices are allowed to operate with up to 33% strength, they are not allowed to operate within the areas of MMR, MMC, PMC and PCMC in the state of Maharashtra.
b. Karnataka: The Government of Karnataka vide a circular dated May 4, 2020, requires submission of an online self-declaration of adherence to the SOPs by the industries, IT/ITeS companies, data/call centers, telecom and internet services, which are allowed to operate, before they commence the units/operations. It has also been directed that the industries engaged in essential services which were permitted to operate submit the said declaration. Further, the link for online self-declaration is www.kum.karnataka.gov.in.