The Centre on Sunday directed states to continue lockdown measures till May 31, ANI reported. A nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25 to combat the coronavirus and has since been extended thrice, with the latest extension beginning May 18.

The states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu had earlier in the day announced extension in the lockdowns till May 31.

The Ministry of Home Affairs subsequently issued guidelines for the fourth phase of the lockdown. It permitted interstate and intrastate movement of buses and passenger vehicles in red zones, in addition to orange and green zones. However, this relaxation will be subject to the permission of the concerned state or Union Territory, and will not be permitted in containment areas.

The ministry also yielded to a key demand of states – to allow them to define red, orange, green and buffer zones, after taking into consideration the guidelines the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued. Chief ministers of several states had on May 11 asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the states to define these zones.

However, the Centre extended the nationwide ban on other non-essential activities, such as domestic and international air travel (except for medical purposes), metro rail services, schools, colleges, hotels and restaurants (except for home delivery), cinema halls, shopping malls and all other avenues of entertainment, as well as religious, social or political gatherings. Places of worship shall also remain closed, it said.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs said the night curfew from 7 pm to 7 am shall remain in place, wherein individuals will not be allowed to venture out of their homes except for accessing essential services. The notification also asked employers to encourage their employees to install use the Aarogya Setu app.

The notification allowed marriage parties comprising not more than 50 persons, and funerals with 20 persons or less, to be conducted. It also permitted sports stadiums to reopen and function, but without spectators.

India has reported 90,927 cases of coronavirus so far, including 2,872 deaths, according to the Union health ministry.

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