Millennium Post

Lockdown extended till May 31

New Delhi: The Centre on Sunday allowed inter-state and intra-state movement of public vehicles with conditions and reopening of all shops except those in malls and COVID-19 containment zones as it extended the nationwide lockdown for the fourth time till May 31, during which flight and Metro services and all kinds of public gatherings will remain barred.

In its nine-page guidelines, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Centre has stated that shopping malls, schools, colleges, educational institutions, including coaching centres, will remain closed till the month-end.

The MHA said that inter-state movement of passenger vehicles, buses will be allowed with mutual consent of states involved during the COVID-19 lockdown 4.0.

States and UTs have been given the powers for delineation of Red, Green and Orange Zones as per COVID-19 situation, the MHA said.

The MHA has also allowed e-commerce platforms to deliver all goods, including those considered non-essential, in all areas except containment zones. However, all shops, except those in containment zones and malls, will be allowed to open from Monday with staggered timings during lockdown 4.0. It includes barber shops and parlour except in containment zones.

Importantly, the night curfew will continue to be in force. The movement of individuals will remain strictly prohibited between 7 pm to 7 am, except for essential activities.

As per the guidelines, sports complexes and stadiums have been allowed to open, but spectators would not be allowed. It will pave the way for the resumption of halted sports training camps.

However, as per the experts, despite the relaxation, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is unlikely to go ahead even behind closed doors as the operation of both domestic and international flights will remain closed till May 31.

The guidelines came soon after the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) extended the national lockdown beyond Sunday till May-end.

It said all domestic, international air travel of passengers, except domestic air ambulance, will remain prohibited.

"Hotels, restaurants, cinema halls, malls, swimming pools, gyms will also remain shut even as all social, political, religious functions and places of worship will be closed till May 31," the guidelines said, adding that restaurants have been allowed to operate kitchens for home delivery of food items.

Shops like hair salons, utensils shops, electronic shops, automobile showrooms, mobile shops, etc would be allowed to open in all other areas expect containment zones. All shops would have to ensure 6 feet distance (2 gaz ki doori) among customers and not allow more than five persons at one time.

The guidelines have further stated that wearing of face cover/mask will be compulsory in all public and workplaces while spitting in public and workplace will be punishable with fine and consumption of liquor, paan, gutka, tobacco, etc will continue to be banned.

All necessary standard operating procedures, which include social distancing, wearing masks, availability of sanitiser, need to be ensured.

The government has also directed persons above the age of 65 years, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years to stay at home as they are more vulnerable to the deadly virus.

Practice of work from home should be followed as far as possible, the guideline reads, adding staggering work, business hours shall be followed in offices, work places, shops and commercial establishments.

The authorities further directed departments concerned to issue modifications in the guidelines as necessary, keeping in view the need to open up economic activities while containing the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

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