The government said on Saturday that the country’s lockdown can be extended to June 30 by the phased plan for unlocking India, except for areas with the most cases of coronavirus.
The home ministry has said in new guidelines on Saturday, 1 day before the lockdown period ends, that all the activities banned earlier would open in stages.
When a country enters a total lock-down to break the virus transmission network, strict orders enforcing on 25 March, at least up to 30 June, are limited to containment zones-areas sealed by large numbers of COVID-19 cases.
Night curfew remains, however, there is a slight change in the time duration, instead of 7 am to 7 pm now the time slot will be from 9 pm to 5 am.
The next few weeks will be followed by an assessment of cinemas, schools and international flighting. After consultations with states, parents and other stakeholders, a decision on reopening schools and colleges will come in July.
Restaurants with a significant decline in sales will see more relief from recent tranquility since after a period of over two months they can now open up for dining. Previous permits for take-overs and online delivery were granted to restaurants. Restaurants said, however, that they would be waiting for clarity regarding state guidelines. “Fundamentally, we are happy to restart. But we have to first look at the new guidelines that various states will come up with”, said Anurag Katriar, President of the Indian National Gastronomy Association (NRAI).
Katriar further stated that when it comes to the opening of new stores, restaurants who have pursued new leases with malls would need to negotiate fresh commercial agreements.
The hospitality industry too has welcomed the MHA Directive, which has permitted hotels to reopen since 8 June. Since the lockout in March the sector has come to a sharp halt, with enormous loss of income, jobs and cash flows.
The order is subject to state regulation, but it is a positive move, because there have been almost three months in a hospitality sector without economic operation, according to Singh Kohli, Vice President of the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association Federation.
Amidst numerous appeals and different industry organization representing the government, a relief package of the Rs 20 lakh central government package has not been made available to the sector. In order to pay the wages and operating costs and to waive permanent central and state statutory and banking liabilities for a minimum of 12 months without any penal or compound interest which had not been dealt with, the industry associations proposed a dedicated free interest-and-assurance fund.
“We welcome the announcement by the Ministry of Home Affairs to allow shopping centres, malls to open starting June 8. SCAI has made a stringent set of SOPs which are submitted to the MHA as well as the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and other authorities. The relaxation is certainly going to help ease an unimaginable amount of pressure that was put on the industry following the lockdown. Revival and resurgence is a long process, which has just about begun. We will await further information from MOHFW to ensure the guidelines are followed in letter and spirit,” said Amitabh Taneja, Chairman, Shopping Centres Association of India.
The Home Ministry has issued guidelines for the phased reopening of the lockdown outside of confinement zones as the fourth leg of coronaviral lockdown approaches its end. Throughout control areas demarcated by District officials, these limits will stay in place.
Social distancing norms must be followed in the places even after reopening. In its guidance on the phasing out of different operations beyond containment zones the Ministry of Home Affairs specified that after consulting the central ministries, divisions and other stakeholders, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shall provide uniform operating procedures for such institutions.