The Modi government has extended the nationwide lockdown for the second time by a further two weeks after the Ministry of Home Affairs did a comprehensive review of the COVID-19 situation in India on Friday.
In an order, MHA has laid down guidelines to be followed in different zones across the country — Red, Orange and Green — depending on the risk profiling of various districts. The guidelines have permitted considerable relaxations in the districts falling in the Green and Orange Zones. The classification of districts into Zones will be shared by the Health Ministry with States and Union Territories 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 Healthy Ministry in the list of Red or Orange Zones.
There are 130 Red zones, 319 Green zones and 284 Orange zones across India.
The Green Zones will be districts with either zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 till date or no confirmed case in the last 21 days. In the Green Zones, all activities are permitted except the limited number of activities that are prohibited throughout the country (see list below), irrespective of the Zone. However, buses can operate with up to 50% seating capacity and bus depots can operate with up to 50% capacity.
The classification of districts as Red Zones will take into account the total number of active cases, doubling rate of confirmed cases, the extent of testing and surveillance feedback from the districts. As the colour suggests, these are the places where there are the risk of transmission of COVID-19 among the population is considerably high. Most of all metropolitan cities in India have fallen under Red Zone — Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Here, certain activities are prohibited in addition to those prohibited throughout the country — plying of cycle rickshaws and auto-rickshaws; running of taxis and cab aggregators; intra-district and inter-district plying of buses; and, barbershops, spas and salons. Shops in urban areas, for non-essential goods, are not allowed in malls, markets and market complexes.
On the other hand, movement of individuals and vehicles is allowed only for permitted activities, with a maximum of 2 persons (besides the driver) in four-wheeler vehicles, and with no pillion rider in the case of two-wheelers. All standalone (single) shops, neighbourhood (colony) shops and shops in residential complexes are permitted to remain open in urban areas, without any distinction of essential and non-essential. E-Commerce activities are permitted only in respect of essential goods. Private offices can operate with upto 33% strength as per requirement, with the remaining persons working from home.
All industrial and construction activities in rural areas, including MNREGA works, food-processing units and brick-kilns are permitted; besides, in rural areas, without distinction to the nature of goods, all shops, except in shopping malls are permitted.
Those districts, which are neither defined as Red nor Green, shall be classified as Orange zones. Here, in addition to activities permitted in Red Zone, taxis and cab aggregators will be permitted with 1 driver and 1 passenger only. Inter-district movement of individuals and vehicles will be allowed for permitted activities only. Four wheeler vehicles will have a maximum of two passengers besides the driver and pillion riding will be allowed on two-wheelers.
The most sensitive areas of the country, from the spread of Coronavirus point of view, and falling within the Red and Orange Zones, are designated as Containment Zones. These are areas where there is significant risk of spread of the infection. 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.
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 all Zones, with social distancing norms and other safety precautions; however, these will not be permitted within the Containment Zones.