No Relaxations For Containment Zones As Coronavirus Lockdown Is Extended

No Relaxations For Containment Zones As Coronavirus Lockdown Is Extended

Coronavirus Lockdown 5 Guidelines: Containment zones will not see any relaxations, the centre said (File)

New Delhi:

The coronavirus lockdown will remain in force in containment zones till June 30, the Home Ministry said in its order on Saturday evening, stating that only essential goods and services would be allowed in these areas.

The order said that while other areas will see previously prohibited activities, including re-opening of shopping malls and hotels, allowed in a "phased" manner starting June 8, no such relaxations would be allowed for containment zones.

"Containment zones will be demarcated by district authorities after taking into consideration the guidelines of the Health Ministry. In containment zones, only essential activities will be allowed," the government's notification read.

Containment zones refer to specific and localised neighbourhoods and residential areas where there are a high number of COVID-19 cases. These areas are removed from a list of such zones after no fresh case is reported for 28 consecutive days.

Metro cities - some of the worst-affected areas in the country - have hundreds of such zones. Delhi, which has over 17,000 confirmed cases, has 102 as of Friday while Mumbai, with nearly 37,000 cases, has 684.

Movement in containment zones will be monitored to ensure that nobody leaves or visits, except for medical emergencies and the supply of essential goods and services. Containment zones will also see intensive contact tracing, house-to-house surveillance and other clinical interventions, as required.

States and union territories have also been asked to identify buffer zones outside containment zones. These refer to areas the virus could spread. Restrictions within buffer zones will be decided on by district authorities, the Home Ministry said.

A phased re-opening of economic activity and movement has been planned for the fifth phase of the coronavirus lockdown. This is expected to kick in from June 8, when malls, restaurants and religious places can re-open.

In the second phase, schools, colleges and other educational institutions may also re-open. However, this will only take place after consultation with all stakeholders, including parents and state/union territory officials.

Educational institutions cannot re-open before July, the government cautioned.

The third phase, to be permitted after assessing the ground situation, will include re-starting international air travel and metro services.

India went under a total lockdown, believed to be the strictest in the world, on March 25. Since then, there have been three extensions with incremental easing of curbs. Today, the lockdown was extended for the fourth time.

Across the country, the number of COVID-19 cases has crossed 1.7 lakh and there have been close to 5,000 deaths.