The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday issued an advisory on standard health & hygiene protocol for workplaces amid the coronavirus pandemic. The government also said the consolidated revised guidelines for the lockdown should not be misused by anyone to harass the management of any manufacturing or commercial establishments. The consolidated revised guidelines were issued on April 15, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 3.
To ensure safety & well being of all employees, our Govt under PM @NarendraModi ji’s leadership has issued standard health & hygiene protocol for workplaces.— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) April 23, 2020
Offices & factories should carefully follow these guidelines & be assured regarding any apprehensions regarding the same. pic.twitter.com/uHcbymRCx4
In a letter to the chief secretaries of all states and union territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said no legal action will be taken against the CEO of a company, nor a factory will be sealed, in case an employee tests positive for COVID-19. He also said some apprehensions, based on wrong interpretation of the guidelines, have been raised in the media and by some companies having manufacturing facilities.
(A) States may take legal action including imprisonment of CEO in case a COVID-19 positive employee is found in the factory. (Untrue)
(B) In such a situation, the premises of the factory would be sealed for 3 months. (Untrue)
(C) In case of non-compliance of precautionary measures, the factory may be closed down for two days and may be allowed to restart after full compliance. (Untrue)
"I would like to clarify that there is no such clause in the consolidated revised guidelines and therefore there is no basis for such misplaced apprehensions," Bhalla said in his letter.
PM Modi had also said certain industrial activities would be allowed in some areas after April 20. The guidelines specified the details of such exempted activities and associated terms and conditions.
Certain quarters of the industry including exporters have raised concerns over the penal provisions in the guidelines, saying they leave scope for harassment by authorities, due to which manufacturing units may not start operations, even with the minimum workforce.
Further emphasising on the subject to compliance with the SOP on social distancing, no fresh licence or statutory approval is required for resumption of permitted activities during the lockdown period, he said.
For example, he said, an industrial activity, allowed to operate prior to the lockdown, needs no fresh statutory approval, once it has been included as a permitted activity under the consolidated revised guidelines, and has complied with the SOP on social distancing.
"In light of the above, I would like to request all State and UT governments that the industrial field establishments and field offices may be apprised of the guidelines of lockdown measures which should be followed to prevent the spread of the epidemic.
(with PTI inputs)