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Govt allows select activities starting April 20: telemedicine, e-commerce allowed, schools to go online route

With the nationwide lockdown being extended to May 3, the Central government will lift restrictions on more sectors starting April 20 “to mitigate hardship to the public”. Manufacture of essential goods, cargo operations, courier services, telemedicine, and operations of bank branches are among the services allowed. The government encouraged the use of Aarogya Setu — which has already hit 50 million downloads — for all employees in the public and private sectors. States and union territories cannot dilute any guideline issued by the Home Ministry, but they can impose stricter measures if required.

The government has mandated social distancing and face masks in public and work places, disallowed gatherings of five or more people, while gatherings for funerals and marriages shall remain regulated by the District Magistrate. It also reiterated a strict ban on sale of liquor, gutka, tobacco, etc, and prohibited spitting.

What is allowed

Healthcare

  • Telemedicine facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics
  • Chemists, pharmacies, Jan Aushadhi Kendras
  • Sale and supply of medicines
  • Authorised private establishments, supporting essential services or COVID-19 containment
  • Manufacturing units for drugs, medical devicesm medical oxygen
  • Movement, including by air, or all medical and veterinary personnel, scientists, nurses, para-medical staff, lab technicians, mi-wives, ambualnces, and other hospital support staff

Financial sector

  • RBI, and RBI-regulated financial markets, entities such as NPCI, CCIL, payment system operators, standalone primary dealers
  • Bank branches, ATMs, IT vendors for banking operations, banking correspondents, ATM operation and cash management agencies
  • Bank branches can function per normal working house until disbursal of DBT cash transfers is complete
  • Local administration will provide adequate security personnel at bank branches and BCs to maintain social distancing, law and order, and staggering of account holders
  • SEBI, and capital and debt market services, as notified by SEBI
  • IRDAI and insurance companies

All educational, training, coaching institutions shall remain closed, but “are expected to maintain the academic schedule” via online teaching. “Online teaching and distance learning to be encouraged,” the ministry said. It’s unclear whether online classes and mandatory or only recommended.

Supply of essential goods

  • MNREGA workers allowed with strict implementation or social distancing and face masks
  • All manufacturing, wholesale, retail facilties involved in supply chain of essential goods allowed, whether via local stores or e-commerce. They can operate without any time restrictions, but with strict social distancing.
  • Kirana stores, ration stores (including PDS), fruits and vegetables, allowed to operate without timing restrictions, but with social distancing in place
  • Print and electronic media, including broadcasting, DTH, adn cable
  • IT and IT enabled services, with upto 50% strength
  • Government approved Common Service Centres at panchayat level
  • E-commerce companies, vehicles operated by them will get adequate permissions
  • Courier services
  • Hotels, homestays, lodges, which are accommodating stranded people
  • Industries manufacturing IT hardware
  • Government offices of defence, Health and Family Welfare, National Informatics Centre.

The above is not an exhaustive list of the services allowed, see the Home Ministry’s guidelines for the complete list. The permitted activities do not apply to containment zones demarcated by state and local officials. If any new containment zones arises hereon, the permitted activities will be suspended there as well.

What is prohibited

  • All public transport is disallowed, including metro, buses, and cab aggregators, and taxis.
  • All cinema halls, shopping complexes, gyms, swimming pools, will remain closed
  • All domestic and international air travel, all passenger movement by trains
  • All religious, social, political, entertainment, academic gatherings are prohibited

Any person violating these measures will be held liable under Section 51-60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, besides legal action under Section 188 of the IPC.

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