Essential services such as grocery and ration shops, milk stores and chemist shops will remain open during the 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Ministry of Home Affairs said on Tuesday.
Modi announced that the countrywide lockdown will come into force at midnight, and continue for 21 days, in view of the spread of the coronavirus. After announcing the complete lockdown as the only way to fight the coronavirus, Modi told citizens not to panic.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a set of guidelines to ministries, government departments at the Centre and in states for containment of Covid-19. The ministry also issued a list of essential services that shall remain open during the period of the lockdown.
The ministry said hospitals and all related medical establishments such as chemist shops, dispensaries, laboratories, nursing homes and ambulances shall continue to operate. “The transportation for all medical personnel, nurses, paramedical staff, other hospital support services be permitted,” the ministry said in its order.
All commercial and private establishments shall shut down, with the exception of those dealing with food and groceries, meat, fish and animal fodder. ATMs, banks, insurance offices, offices of the print and electronic media, telecommunications and internet services, and deliveries of essential goods via e-commerce shall continue.
The ministry said that petrol pumps, petroleum and gas retail and storage outlets will also continue to function. Capital and debt market services notified by the Securities and Exchange Board of India will be allowed. On the other hand, most hospitality services will remain suspended.
The ministry said that all educational, training and research institutions shall be closed, and all places of worship and sports or recreational activities barred during the lockdown period. For funerals, a congregation of more than 20 persons shall not be allowed.
The home ministry said that offices of the Government of India and of public corporations shall remain closed, with exceptions for those offices dealing with the defence sector, Central Armed Police Forces, treasury, public utilities, disaster management, power generation and transmission units, post offices, National Informatics Centre and early warning agencies. The ministry said offices of the governments of states and Union Territories shall also remain closed, with exceptions.
The ministry said offices that have been permitted to work will operate with a minimum of staff. It said other offices can operate by providing employees the work from home facility.
District Magistrates shall deploy executive magistrates as incident commanders to oversee overall implementation of these measures, the Centre said.
To ensure strict implementation of these measures, the government invoked Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, which prescribe a jail term of up to 2 years for any violation by individuals, companies or officials involved in implementation. Violators will also face action under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, which relates to disobedience of an order duly promulgated by a public servant.
The toll from the epidemic in India rose to 10 on Tuesday, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. On the other hand, 519 infections have been reported in the country so far, of which 470 are active cases.
Globally, 3.98 lakh people have so far been diagnosed with Covid-19 infections, and 17,454 have died, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University.