The government of India has passed a new order that imposes penalties on those who step out in public spaces in Noida and Greater Noida, without having the Aarogya Setu app installed on their phones. The order clearly states that those spotted without the Aarogya Setu app on their phones will be deemed in violation of the Covid-19 lockdown regulations, and hence face a penalty for flouting the norms. In an earlier order, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had made the Aarogya Setu app a compulsory installation on phones of all public sector and government employees, as well as private sector employees travelling to office.
The government has further stated in a new order that actions will be taken against individuals that step out without wearing a face mask, and are spotted spitting in public spaces. Furthermore, in the Noida and Greater Noida areas, the government has mandated a complete ban of all political gatherings, protest marches, rallies, religious congregations, and social and sports meet-ups in Noida and Greater Noida, at least until further notice. With this, the ban essentially extends to any public congregation activity, as India enters what is purportedly the later stages of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a new order extending the lockdown by two more weeks until at least May 17, the MHA has relaxed quite a few norms in a bid to open up the economy of India in a staggered manner. e-Commerce operators were sanctioned to sell and deliver non-essential items in green and orange zones across the country, but unfortunately, the latter do not include any of the major Indian metros. Private offices were also allowed to operate with 33 percent workforce going forward, while liquor shops were also opened in all areas except for containment zones.
The Aarogya Setu app is being deemed as a compulsory fixture by the government as its contact tracing solution. While it has attracted many privacy debates in recent times, the government has maintained that the app does not flout any privacy norms. The app has been made increasingly mandatory in the past few weeks, and the new order makes it mandatory among civilians for the first time.