The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), post the announcement of nationwide lockdown by the Prime Minister, has released a set of guidelines today, on March 24, to be followed by various ministries under the Government of India. The guidelines issued are majorly referred to the essential services that will remain open for the next three weeks.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown to promote social distancing and prevent further spread of Coronavirus pandemic.
The guidelines issued by the Ministry addressing the essential services stated that shops including ration shops (under PDS), dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, animal fodder will remain open. However, district authorities may encourage and facilitate home delivery to minimize the movement of individuals outside their homes.
Moreover, Banks, insurance offices, and ATMs, print and electronic media, telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services. IT and IT-enabled services only (for essential services) and as far as possible to work from home will also be allowed amidst the nationwide lockdown.
Services like delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment through E-commerce, petrol pumps, LPG, petroleum and gas retail and storage outlets, power generation, transmission and distribution units and services will also be operational in the coming 3 weeks.
Regarding offices and workplaces, the guidelines clearly state that offices of the Government of India, its autonomous/ subordinate offices and public corporations shall remain closed. However, defence, central armed police forces, treasury, disaster management, post offices, National Informatics Centre, Early Warning Agencies are exempted from the lockdown and will remain open.
Similarly, offices of the State/ Union Territory Governments, their autonomous bodies, corporations, etc. will also remain closed from midnight. However, there are exceptions such as police, home guards, civil defence, fire and emergency services, disaster management, and prisons; district administration and treasury; electricity, water, sanitation; municipal bodies, only staff required for essential services like sanitation, personnel-related to the water supply.
Further, healthcare facilities including government and private hospitals and ambulance services will remain functional during the three-week lockdown in the country.
Rest all the services which are not exempted are advised to either move to ‘Work from Home’ pattern or remain closed for the coming three-week lockdown period.
Considering transport services, the guidelines stated that only cargo services and transport related to goods and services will remain functional. Rest all the public transport facilities, cab services, flights, trains will not operate.
Further, the guidelines mentioned that the people found not complying with the orders will be liable to punishment.