For the first time since the first lockdown was announced on March 24, the government for the first time moved towards unlocking the country, with easing of several restrictions in non-containment areas. As per the government, like the nationwide lockdown, the unlocking will also be done in three parts. The guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Saturday comprised guidelines for phase 1 of resumption of economic activities across states. These guidelines will come into effect from June 1, 2020, and will be effective till June 30, 2020. The current phase of reopening will have an economic focus.
All activities prohibited earlier will be opened up in areas outside the containment zones in a phased manner, with the stipulation of following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as prescribed by the health ministry. In phase-I, religious places and places of worship for the public; hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services; and shopping malls will be permitted to open from June 8. The Centre will issue SOPs for these activities for ensuring social distancing and to contain the spread of COVID-19.
In Phase II, schools, colleges, educational/training/coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with states and UTs. States are being advised to hold consultations at the institution level with parents and other stakeholders. The final decision will be taken in July after the ministry issues SOPs.
Only a limited number of activities will remain prohibited throughout the country, including international air travel of passengers; operation of the metro; cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places. Social/political/sports/entertainment/academic/cultural/religious functions and other congregations also remain prohibited for now. The dates for their opening will be decided in phase 3.
Strategy for containment zones
The lockdown will continue to be implemented strictly in the containment zones. These will be demarcated by state/UTs considering the Centre's guidelines. Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control will be maintained and only essential activities shall be allowed.
Govt allows unrestricted movement
There will be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of people and goods. No separate permission will be required for such movements. However, if a state/UT proposes to regulate the movement of persons, it will give wide publicity in advance regarding the restrictions.
Night curfew will continue to remain in force on the movement of individuals for all non-essential activities. However, the revised timings of the curfew will be from 9 pm to 5 am.
Protection for vulnerable people
As per the government, senior citizens 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 meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.
Authorities have been advised to encourage the use of Aarogya Setu app. The COVID-19 tracker app according to the government, is a "powerful tool" built by it "to facilitate quick identification of people infected with coronavirus, which acts as a shield for individuals and community."