The Telangana government on Tuesday announced a 10-day lockdown in the state to rein in the sudden surge in coronavirus cases. The new curbs will come into effect from Wednesday and will be in force till May 22.

However, there would be relaxation for all the activities between 6 am and 10 am, said the Telangana Chief Minister’s Office. After 10 am, only essential activities will be allowed.

The decision to impose a lockdown was taken at a meeting of top state officials, chaired by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. “The Telangana state cabinet meeting discussing the pros and cons of a statewide lockdown will be conducted at 2 pm at Pragathi Bhavan,” the Chief Minister’s Office had said earlier in the day. Last week, Rao had said that he will not impose a lockdown – partial or total – to contain the spread of coronavirus, as it will lead to the collapse of the financial system in the state.

Earlier in the day, Congress Legislature Party leader Bhatti Vikramarka had demanded a 14-day lockdown in the state.

From Wednesday, all southern states – except Andhra Pradesh, where there is a partial curfew – will be under lockdown. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are under lockdown till May 24. In Kerala, the curbs are in force till May 16.

Telangana registered 4,826 positive cases and 32 deaths on Monday. India on Tuesday recorded 3,29,942 new Covid-19 cases, taking the tally of infections in the country to 2,29,92,517 since the pandemic broke out in the country in January 2020. The toll climbed by 3,876 to 2,49,992.

The government has offered relaxations for several activities in Tuesday’s lockdown guidelines, according to News18.

Here are the sectors, activities that are exempted from lockdown:

  • Works related to the agriculture produce, allied sectors, works undertaken with the agriculture machines, seed manufacturing companies, and other agri-based sectors can continue. 
  • Pharmaceutical companies, those which manufacturing medical equipment, medical distributors, chemists can remain open. Additionally, government and private hospitals, their staff, will also be exempted from the orders. The staff and employees of these sectors would be given special passes for travel. 
  • Sanitation works in rural and urban areas would continue. Power generation, distribution and their allied services will also go on as usual, according to News18. 
  • Petrol pumps would be open on the National highways, banks and ATMs will remain open, and all print and electronic media organisations will be allowed to function. LPG supply of the cylinders would also continue as usual.
  • As far as public gatherings are concerned, not more than 40 persons will be allowed at wedding ceremonies, while only 20 can attend funeral processions, the government said. Government offices, meanwhile, would work with 33% of the staff.
  • Public transports services will be available every day during the lockdown between 6 am and 10 am. All ration shops in the state will also be open during these four hours. Additionally, check posts will be set up on the borders of the state to monitor the movement of people, according to News18.

‘Unconstitutional,’ says Telangana HC as police stop ambulances

The Telangana High Court on Tuesday pulled up the state government for stopping ambulances from neighbouring states entering Telangana without a prior scheduled hospital admission, reported Live Law. “This is a blatant violation of the Constitution,” said a division bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy. “You are denying medical treatment to people.”

On Monday, the Telangana Police had stopped the entry of all ambulances with Covid-19 patients from Andhra Pradesh, reported The New Indian Express. Check-posts have been set up at Pullur in Jogulamba-Gadwal, Kodada on the Nalgonda-Krishna district border and Mancherial and Kumaram Bheem-Asifabad districts on Telangana-Maharashtra border.

However, there is no official restriction on inter-state travel between Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

“We have clear instructions from the senior officers not to allow ambulances to Hyderabad in any case,” an officer told The Hindu. “So we are stopping them and asking the family members to arrange for the treatment in AP. Another senior officer said they were not allowing the ambulances without any prior confirmation from the hospitals in Hyderabad.

Social media was awash with videos of families pleading with the police to reach Hyderabad, which is considered a medical hub for the twin states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Some of the patients were asked to furnish a negative RT-PCR certificate or a confirmed admission appointment from a hospital in Telangana.

“All the patients stopped by the police were on liquid oxygen support and they need immediate medical assistance, but police are not allowing us stating that there are no beds in Hyderabad and asked us to go back,” a family member of a Covid-19 patient who was stopped and forced to go back to Kurnool told The Hindu.