In lockdown 4.0, Centre allows offices, factories to open with staggered timings

Barely six hours before the expiry of the third round of the Covid-19 lockdown, the Centre on Sunday extended the lockdown till 31 May but ended restrictions on employees returning to work at offices, factories and other industrial units.

Metro services, quite like air travel, will still not be allowed. Ditto for shopping malls and cinema halls, places that have a high footfall.

The night curfew, which restricts movement of people between 7 pm and 7 am, will continue. Also, people above 65 years of age, pregnant women and children below 10 years have been told to stay at home.

States that want to restart bus services can do so. The lockdown guidelines issued by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also permitted inter-state bus services, provided the states involved give their consent.

And yes, the Centre has lifted the bar on barber shops and deliveries by e-commerce sites such as Amazon.

These relaxations, however, may not apply to everyone.

The Centre has restored the primacy of the states to fight Covid-19, allowing them to decide areas that should be earmarked as Green, Orange or Red Zones. The state governments have also been authorised to decide the restrictions that should be placed in these areas.

The state, however, cannot relax activities in containment zones. Here, the home ministry order said, only essential activities would be allowed.

In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had told the central government that it was in favour of prohibiting schools, salons, barber shops, cinema halls, hotels and dine-in services at restaurants. Kejriwal, however, wanted the Centre to allow shopping malls.

The home ministry guidelines didn’t accept the request to allow shopping malls. But for the rest, chief ministers will have the power to decide what can open, and for how long.

In his first reaction, Arvind Kejriwal appeared to welcome the central guidelines which he said, were largely in line with the proposal sent by the city government on the suggestions of lakhs of people living in the national capital.

The Delhi government “will prepare the detailed plan for Delhi based on the Centre’s guidelines and announce it tomorrow”, he tweeted, declaring that it was time to relax the restrictions to some extent.

It is still not clear how the relaxations announced by the Centre will play out in Maharashtra, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, the three states that had taken the lead to extend the lockdown till 31 May.

Source : Hindustan Times


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