The Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification has clarified that no state or Union Territory can dilute the guidelines it has issued for Phase 4 of the lockdown, which started on Monday and will last till May 31. The state or Union Territory can only impose the same or stricter measures based on assessment of the local situation, the ministry said in an order on Sunday night.

The ministry added that the states and Union Territories must also take into account the benchmarks or thresholds indicated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare while delineating red, orange, green, containment and buffer zones. The home ministry added that wide publicity should be given to the lockdown guidelines issued by both the Centre and the states, for the convenience of the public.

“As emphasised in my earlier letters, I would like to reiterate again that States and Union Territories cannot dilute restrictions imposed vide the aforesaid guidelines issued by MHA,” Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla told chief secretaries of states in a communication, according to PTI. “States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain other activities in various zones, or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary.”

Centre’s guidelines

In a notification issued earlier on Sunday, the Ministry of Home Affairs acceded to a key demand of the states – the power to decide which areas fall under red, orange, green and buffer zones. Chief ministers of several states had on May 11 asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the states to define these zones.

It also allowed interstate and intrastate movement of buses and other public transport.

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 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.

As of Monday morning, 96,169 people have been infected with Covid-19 in India, and 3,029 have died, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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