New Delhi: In the fourth phase of the coronavirus lockdown that begins from Monday, the states and Union territories will not be able to dilute restrictions. However, they can restrict activities that have been allowed in certain areas under widespread relaxations introduced by the Centre.
"I would like to reiterate again that states/Union Territories cannot dilute restrictions imposed vide the aforesaid guidelines issued by the MHA," warned Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla in a letter to all chief secretaries. However, he added that "based on their assessment", the states and Union territories may prohibit activities in certain areas.
He also attached the letter written by Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan where she reminded the things that need to be kept in mind while determining zones.
"Under the new guidelines, states/Union Territories (UTs) will now categorise Red, Green and Orange zones taking into consideration the parameters shared by the Health Ministry," said the MHA on Sunday.
Inside the "red" and "orange" zones, containment and buffer zones will be identified by the district administration and local urban bodies with technical inputs at the local level and by taking into consideration the health ministry guidelines.
Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and no movement of persons will be allowed across the zones, except for medical emergencies and maintaining the supply of essential goods and services, the letter said.
It added that the zones can be a district, or a municipal corporation or municipality or for that matter even smaller administrative units such as sub-divisions, which will be decided by states and UTs. This has been a long standing demand which was vociferously put forward by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee among other CMs.
In the attached letter of Sudan, she cited a graph that says that total active cases of more than 200 in an area should be considered as "critical" as well as more than 15 active cases per lakh individuals. She even said that whenever fatality rate is more than 6 per cent or confirmation rate of positive cases are more than 6 per cent, states and union territories should consider the situation as "critical".
Bhalla, in his letter, also highlighted that while new exemptions like inter-state travel are given and more power are transferred in the hands of the states and UT administrations, there has been absolutely no change when it comes to dealing with containment zones.
The home secretary said a limited number of activities will continue to remain prohibited throughout the country. However, only essential activities shall be allowed in the Covid-19 containment zones, as mentioned earlier.
The lockdown announced by the prime minister came into effect on March 25 for 21 days initially. It was first extended till May 3 and then again till May 17. On Monday, the lockdown was extended till May 31.
(with IANS inputs)