What’s the status of the lockdown?
It has been extended by two weeks from May 4.
Oh, dear. That means nothing changes for two more weeks?
Not really. The government has eased rules for a number of activities.
Like how? Can you explain?
The entire country has been colour-coded into Red, Orange and Green Zones. The rules are the strictest in the Red Zone districts and get progressively easier in the Orange and Green Zones.
What do these colours signify?
Red Zone areas are those where the incidence of COVID-19 positive cases are the highest, followed by Orange and Green Zones. You can find out the details here.
So if I stay in a Red Zone, my life doesn’t really change. Isn’t it?
Not quite right. If you are in a Red Zone area, you will still be eligible for easier rules from May 4 although you may not be as lucky as your friends staying in Orange and Green Zones.
If you are in a Red Zone, the following will be allowed:
- Private cars with two persons at most.
- Two-wheelers without pillion rider.
What about offices and businesses in Red Zones? Will they be allowed to function?
Yes some of them, such as the following:
- Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Industrial Estates and Export Oriented Undertakings with access control.
- Manufacturing plants of essential goods.
- Manufacturing of IT hardware.
- Jute industry units with staggered shifts and social distancing.
- Manufacturing units of packaging material.
Hmm. And construction and housing projects that have remained stuck for 40 days now?
Construction activities in urban areas have been limited to in-situ construction (where workers are available on site and none are required to be brought in from outside) and construction of renewable energy projects.
What about shops? Will all shops open in Red Zones from May 4?
Shops in urban areas, for non-essential goods, are not allowed in malls, markets and market complexes.
However, 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.
Can I get home-delivered non-essential goods such as clothes through e-commerce companies?
Sorry to disappoint you, but this e-commerce of non-essentials will not be allowed in a Red Zone area.
I need to get my home air conditioners serviced. I stay in the Red Zone. Can I call in an AC service provider?
You can, only if you don’t stay in an area classified as ‘Containment Zone’ within the Red Zone district. ‘Containment Zones’ are areas where strictest enforcement of lockdown rules are in place, given the high incidence of Covid-19 positive cases. All private security and facility management services, and services provided by self-employed persons such as electricians, IT repairs, plumbers, car mechanics and carpenters, except for barbers, will be allowed in all areas, except for those classified as ‘Containment Zones’.
What about salons? I badly need a hair cut.
Afraid you will have to bear a little longer. Barber shops, spas and salons will not be allowed to open.
Can I book an Uber or an Ola to go out?
No, you can’t. Plying of cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws; running of taxis and cab aggregators; intra-district and inter-district plying of buses will remain prohibited in Red Zone districts for two more weeks.
What about offices?
Private offices can operate with upto 33% strength as per requirement, with the remaining persons working from home. All government offices shall function with senior officers of the level of Deputy Secretary and above at full strength, and the remaining staff attending upto 33% as per requirement.
Most of the commercial and private establishments have been allowed in the Red Zones. These include print and electronic media, IT and IT-enabled services, data and call centres, cold storage and warehousing services, private security and facility management services, and services provided by self-employed persons, except for barbers, and manufacturing units of non-essential goods.
Will my house help be allowed to come?
House help will be allowed in all zones except containment zones. But since no public transport is available, they will have to reach the residence of their employer on their own. And society rules in the zones will apply. No domestic help will be allowed in containment zones.
Are there any other activities that will be allowed in a Red Zone?
A large number of other activities will be allowed in the Red Zones.
These include: All industrial and construction activities in rural areas, including MNREGA work, food-processing units and brick-kilns; besides, in rural areas, without distinction to the nature of goods, all shops, except in shopping malls, are permitted.
All agriculture activities, such as sowing, harvesting, procurement and marketing operations in the agricultural supply chain, are permitted. Animal husbandry activities are fully permitted, including inland and marine fisheries. All plantation activities are allowed, including their processing and marketing.
All health services (including AYUSH) are to remain functional, including transport of medical personnel and patients through air ambulances.
What about the financial sector such as banks and NBFCs?
A large part of the financial sector remains open, which includes banks, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), insurance and capital market activities, and credit co-operative societies.
Aha. It doesn’t seem that bad after all. It does get a little easier in the Orange Zones. Doesn’t it?
Indeed. In the Orange Zones, in addition to activities permitted in Red Zones, taxis and cab aggregators (such as Uber and Ola) will be permitted with a driver and a single passenger only.
Inter-district movement of individuals and vehicles will be allowed for permitted activities only. Four-wheelers will have a maximum of two passengers besides the driver and pillion riding will be allowed on two-wheelers.
And Green Zone areas? Does life return to a pre-COVID-19 era?
Well, almost. In the Green Zones, all activities are permitted except the limited number of activities, which are prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the zone. However, buses can operate with upto 50% seating capacity and bus depots can operate with upto 50% capacity.
All goods traffic is to be permitted. No state or Union Territory shall stop the movement of cargo for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate pass of any sort is needed for such movement, which is essential for maintaining the supply chain of goods and services across the country during the lockdown period.
Do these rules apply universally across India?
States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation and with the primary objective of keeping the spread of COVID-19 in check, may allow only select activities from out of the permitted activities, with such restrictions as felt necessary.