The Centre on Sunday said the guidelines about exemptions during nationwide lockdown to slow down the spread of coronavirus were not being followed properly in some parts of the country. It added that vehicles carrying essential items were being stopped, which could lead to shortage of goods.
In a letter to the chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote, “Trucks carrying essential and non-essential goods are being detained and workers needed for operation of manufacturing units of essential goods, and other exempted categories are not getting authorisations/passes for their movement during lockdown.” He said that restriction on activities exempted during the lockdown could lead to a shortage of essential commodities.
In his letter, the home secretary listed activities exempted by the government during the lockdown. Inter-state and intra-state movement of all trucks, movement of workers to offices and back and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises engaged in the manufacture of essential items like wheat flour, pulses and edible oils among others should be allowed without any hindrances, he wrote.
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The home ministry said that passes must be expeditiously issued to workers engaged in the manufacturing of essentials. “The state/UT [Union Territory] governments shall ensure that these passes are honoured both for movement within their areas and in bordering areas of other states/UTs [Union Territories],” it said. The letter from the ministry said that social distancing norms and hygiene standards must be strictly followed.
In his letter, the home secretary clarified that the directions will apply to all areas other than those designated as infection hotspots by the government.
The 21-day nationwide lockdown to control the rapidly-spreading coronavirus came into effect on March 25. Amid the increasing number of coronavirus cases across the country, several states have extended their respective lockdowns till the end of April. On Saturday, Prime Minister Modi held a video conference with the chief ministers to decide on whether the nationwide lockdown needs to be extended. While there has been no official word from the centre, several chief ministers hinted that the prime minister had agreed to their suggestion to extend the lockdown.
The number of coronavirus cases in India have risen to 9,152, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The highly infectious Covid-19 has killed more than 300 people across the county.