Union Home Ministry has issued strict guidelines for the enforcement of 21-day complete nationwide lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak. It has also invoked the Disaster Management Act which may result in imprisonment of up to two years for any violation. As per the guidelines, all offices of the Government of India, its autonomous offices and public corporations, the offices of State and Union territory governments, autonomous institutions will remain closed. As per the guidelines, commercial and private establishments will remain closed. However, fairs price shops and those dealing with food, groceries, fruits, vegetables dairy and milk booths, meat and fish and animal fodder will remain open. District Authorities may encourage and facilitate home delivery to minimise the movement of individuals outside their homes.
Besides, banks, insurance offices, ATMs, Print and Electronic media will also remain open. Telecommunication, internet services, delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, medical euipment through e-commerce will be available. The guideline also says that hospitals and all related medical establishments, including their manufacturing and distribution units, both in public and private sector, such as dispensaries, chemist and medical equipment shops, labs, clinics, nursing homes, ambulances etc will continue to remain functional. The transportation for all medical personnel, nurses, para-medical staff and other hospital support services will be permitted. Petrol Pump, LPG, Petroleum and Gas retail outlet will remain open. Power generation, transmission and distribution units and services, capital and debt market services as notified by the SEBI will continue to function. It also said that Industrial Establishments will remain closed except manufacturing units of essential commodities.
All transport and services- air, rail, roadways will remain suspended except transportation for essential goods, fire, law and order and emergency services. Hospitality services will also remain suspended except hotels, lodges and motels which are accommodating tourists and persons stranded due to lockdown, medical and emergency staff, air and sea crew and establishments earmarked for quarantine facilities. All educational, training, research, coaching institutions will remain closed. All places of worship will remain closed for public and no religious congregation will be permitted. In case of funerals, congregations of not more than 20 persons will be permitted.
Defence, Central Armed Police Forces, treasury, public utilities including petroleum, CNG, LPG, PNG, disaster management, power, warning agencies, state police, home guards, fire and emergency services, district administration and treasury, electricity, water, sanitation, and Municipal bodies (only staff required for essential
services) have been exempted from lockdown. These offices should work with minimum number of employees while all other offices will work from home.
The guideline further said that District Magistrates shall deploy Executive Magistrates as incident commander to oversee overall implementation of these measures. To ensure strict implementation of these measures, the government has invoked Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management of Act which mandate up to two years of imprisonment for any violation by individuals, companies or officials involved in implementation.