The nationwide lock-down in India came first came into place on 24th March 2020. Under further directions from National Disaster Management Authority the lock-down was extended further till 3rd May 2020. We have covered these directions in our previous posts here and here. The confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen upto 52, 952 and has killed over 1700 people as of 8:00 am IST, 7th May 2020. Therefore, to contain further spread of the pandemic, the Ministry of Home Affairs (“MHA”) on 1st May 2020 issued an Order extending the nationwide lock-down for an additional period of 2 (two) weeks with effect from 4th May 2020 (i.e. till 17th May 2020). Additional activities/ relaxations will be permitted in different zones with effect from 4th May 2020 to further alleviate the hardship being faced by the public during these times.
New MHA Guidelines
The New MHA Guidelines, as contained in the Order, identify the Green, Red (Hotspots), Orange and Containment Zones:
- A district will be considered under Green Zone, if there are zero confirmed cases till date or no confirmed cases in the last 21 days in the district.
- A district will be identified as a Red Zone or a Hotspot District by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (“MoHFW”) by taking into account the total number of active cases, doubling rate of confirmed cases, etc.
- An Orange Zone shall include districts which are neither defined as Red nor Green Zone.
- Containment Zones shall be demarcated within Red (Hotspots) and Orange Zones, basis the MoHFW guidelines.
MoHFW will share the list of Red (Hotspots) Zone, Orange Zone and Green Zone districts and related information with the States/UTs on a weekly basis or earlier, as required.
Activities permitted/ not permitted
We have captured a snapshot of the key activities that have been permitted/ not permitted under Green, Orange, Red (Hotspots) and Containment Zones:
Key Points To Be Noted
The following activities will continue to remain prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the Zones:
- All travel by air, train, metro and Inter-State movement of individuals except for security purposes and for purposes as permitted by MHA;
- All schools, colleges and other educational and training/ coaching institutions;
- Hospitality services other than those used for housing health/ police/ government officials/ health care workers, stranded persons, etc.;
- All places of large public gatherings such as cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes, etc.; and
- All social, political, cultural and other kinds of gatherings and all religious places.
- No separate/ fresh permissions will be required from authorities for activities that have been already permitted to operate under the guidelines (dated 15th April 2020) on lockdown measures upto 3rd May 2020.
- Apart from the activities mentioned hereinabove, all the States/ UTs shall allow inter-state movement of goods/ cargo, including empty trucks.
Status in Maharashtra
In light of the New MHA Guidelines, the Government of Maharashtra also issued an Order dated 2nd May 2020 (“GoM Order”) extending the lockdown measures upto 17th May 2020 and detailing the “Revised GoM Guidelines” which lays down the measures to be taken for containment of COVID-19 in Maharashtra. The said Revised GoM Guidelines are similar to the New MHA Guidelines. All pre-monsoon related work/ metro works have also been permitted in the State and any other work permitted by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, all Municipal Corporations in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (“MMR”), Malegaon Municipal Corporation, Pune Municipal Corporation (“PMC”) and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (“PCMC”).
- Industrial establishments in urban areas such as SEZs, EOUs, etc.
- All standalone shops, shops in neighborhood and residential complexes.
- Private offices.
- Government offices, security services, health, emergency services, etc.
Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 has been imposed in areas under the control of Commissioner of Police, Greater Mumbai prohibiting any presence or movement of or more persons in public places or gathering of any sort anywhere including religious places subject to the following conditions:
- All movement of one or more persons for all non-essential activities, except for medical reasons, shall be prohibited between 20.00 hours and 07.00 hours;
- Social distancing norms shall be followed at all times.
Labour and Employment Laws – Latest Updates
The validity of license granted under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 and the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 have been extended upto 31st May 2020, for those licenses whose renewal falls in the months of March, April and May 2020. However, it has also been clarified that the issuance of new licenses would continue as it is.
Further, in the present circumstances of lock-down, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has issued a press notification to ease the compliance procedure under the Employees’ Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1952. The monthly filing requirement of Electronic-Challan Cum Return (“ECR”) has been separated from the payment of the statutory contributions reported in the ECR. The ECR can now be filed by an employer without the need of simultaneous payment of contributions and the contributions may be paid later by the employer after filing the ECR. Filing of ECR will not attract any penal consequences on the employer if the dues are paid within the extended timeline as announced by the Government.
Ministry of Corporate Affairs (“MCA”) – Latest Updates
Due to the prevailing restrictions on the movement of persons at several places across the country, MCA has allowed companies to conduct their Annual General Meetings through video conferencing facilities or other audio-visual means during the calendar year 2020.
MCA has amended the Companies (Appointment and Qualification of Directors) Rules, 2014 vide its notification dated 29th April 2020, to extend the last date of registration of independent directors in the “data bank” of Independent Directors by 2 months.
MCA has also extended the last date of filing of Form NFRA-2 (through a circular dated 30th April 2020), for the reporting period of Financial Year 2018-2019 to 210 days from the date of deployment of the form on the website of National Financial Reporting Authority.