The Government has been taking various steps to revive the economy in a phased manner, which was severely affected due to the nation-wide lockdown since the month of March 2020. On 29th July, 2020, Ministry of Home Affairs (“MHA”) issued further guidelines on ‘Unlock 3.0’ (under Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005) (“Guidelines”) for opening up of more activities outside the containment zones. These guidelines will be in force up to 31st August 2020. Even though the country is going through an unlock phase, the lockdown in containment zones has been extended till 31st August 2020 due to the rising number of people affected by Covid-19.
Under these Guidelines, all activities will be permitted, except the following:
- Schools, Colleges, educational institutions will remain closed till 31st August 2020. Online/ distance learning is permitted and encouraged.
- Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, bars, theatres, auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places. However, yoga places and gymnasiums are allowed to re-open from 5th August 2020 for which, Standard Operating Procedure will be issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
- International air travel by passengers, except as permitted by MHA.
- Metro Rail. Social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions and other large segregations.
In the containment zones, only essential activities have been allowed to operate. Such activities will be closely monitored by the State and UT authorities and guidelines relating to containment zones will be strictly implemented.
Under these new Guidelines, restrictions on movement of people during night, which had been reduced from 9 pm-7 am to 10 pm-5 am period in Unlock 2.0, have been removed. Also, there shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.
Guidelines in Maharashtra
Soon after MHA issued Guidelines on Unlock 3.0, the State of Maharashtra issued new set of guidelines, pursuant to which the lockdown was extended in the State of Maharashtra till midnight of 31st August 2020. On the other hand, Chief Minister Shri Uddhav Thackeray gave a go ahead, to begin operations of malls and market-places under the “Mission of Begin Again” with effect from 5th August 2020 from 9am to 7pm.
Along with this, the new guidelines also mention that outdoor non-team sports like golf courses, outdoor firing ranges, outdoor gymnastics, tennis, outdoor badminton, will be allowed to reconvene with physical distancing and sanitation measures with effect from 5th August 2020. However, swimming pools have been prohibited from being operational. Apart from all this, all other previously issued guidelines remain the same.
The relaxations allowed under the new guidelines is another step forward towards reviving the economy and ensuring that the livelihood of people are not affected further. However, businesses are still suffering while the number of cases are on the rise.
Unlock Guidelines come at the brink of an increase in the total affected cases with India having reached the mark of 2.7 million cases with the death toll of approximately 50,000. In Maharashtra, the tally of cases has crossed 6 lakh mark and the death toll has risen to nearly 20,000. In a country like India, because of the concentration of people per square foot in urban spaces, such relaxations are having a negative impact in terms of health and safety.
Although the unlock guidelines have given a jumpstart to the economy, the number of cases are rising by each passing day. Stricter and stronger implementation of these guidelines at the root level should be the utmost priority of the State Government and the UTs to maintain the balance between economy and health.
On the other hand State Governments are bringing about a spate of relaxations in respects of working conditions for labour to bring a boost to the manufacturing sector, particularly factories. Watch out for more information on that in our blog in the week to come.
– Archana Balasubramanian, Partner