India readies Unlock 3 with COVID-19 count over 1.5 million


India’s home ministry Wednesday issued guidelines for Unlock 3.0, which will come into effect from August 1.

Since April 25, India has been under various phases of lockdowns to ward off the COVID-19 threat and the country is slowly opening up under various phases of unlocking even as more than 1.5 million people have been infected by the novel coronavirus.

According to the Unlock 3.0 guidelines, restrictions on movement of individuals during night have been scrapped, and yoga institutes and gymnasiums have been allowed to open from August 5.

International air travel has been permitted in a limited manner under the Vande Bharat repatriation mission. Further opening-up will take place in a calibrated manner.

In areas outside the containment zones, all activities will be permitted except for education institutions, cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theaters, bars, auditoriums and assembly halls.

Metros and large congregations continue to be prohibited. “Dates for re-starting the above activities may be decided separately and necessary SOPs shall be issued for ensuring social distancing and to contain the spread of Covid-19,” the ministry said.

Independence Day events at national, state, district, sub-division, municipal and panchayat levels and ‘at home’ functions have been allowed August 15 by following social distancing norm and other health protocols.

There will be no restriction on interstate and intra-state movement of people and goods, including those for across land-border trade under treaties with neighboring countries. No separate permission approval or e-permit will be required for them.

“Movement by passenger and Shramik special trains; domestic passenger air travel; movement of Indians stranded outside the country and of specified persons to travel abroad; evacuation of foreign nationals; and sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers will continue to be related as per the SOP issued,” the ministry said.

People above 65 years of age, those with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home, except for essential and health purposes.

Lockdown will continue to remain in force in the containment zones till August 31. In such zones, only essential activities will be allowed. There shall be strict perimeter to curb movement of people in or out of these zones, except for medical emergencies and for supply of essential goods and services.

“In the containment zones, there shall be intensive contact tracing, house-to-house surveillance and other clinical interventions, as required,” the guidelines stated.

Activities in the containment zones will be monitored strictly by the state, Union Territory authorities, and the guidelines on containment measures in these zones will be strictly implemented.

States and UTs may also identify buffer zones outside the containment zones, where new cases are more likely to occur. Within the buffer zones, restrictions as considered necessary may be put in place by the district authorities.

According to the guidelines, any person violating these measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of sections 51-60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, besides legal action under section 188 of the IPC and other provisions.

The announcement came as the country’s daily spike in COVID-19 cases grew close to 50,000.