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It all began with PM Narendra Modi’s speech on March 22 for Janta Curfew when cases of COVID-19 in India started creating panic and fear-mongering. On March 24, he implementation the 21-day lockdown. Twenty one days later, lockdown extended till May 3, now furthered yet slightly relaxed till May 17, based on red, orange, and green zones in India.

There are several updates this time around, largely pertaining to containment zones and relaxation of movement based on these zones. Red zones are those with “significant risk of spread of the infection” and green zones are those with either zero or no confirmed cases in the past 21 days. Those in between are orange. See numbers here.

But before we jump ahead with crucial details, here’s what you need to know in a nutshell. Coronavirus cases in India have spiked to over 37,000 with more than 1,200 lives lost. Though a national lockdown, the movement of essentials goods and services is not restricted. Groceries are now available (these stores are delivering), and home deliveries of essential items have got a boost with Zomato, Swiggy, and Big Basket joining the fray.

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PM Narendra Modi. Image: Courtesy DD News

Select restaurants are home delivering food; relief funds are being set-up for daily wagers, and several establishments are working to feed the hungry whose livelihoods have been affected. Several homegrown companies have started making economical hand sanitisers, and home workouts and home-cooking channels are booming. India’s first homegrown COVID-19 testing kit has been created (read about Burda Media India’s initiative to get rapid testing kits to those in need).

In the light of this, these are the key takeaways based on the red, orange, and green zones in India.

What is a strict no-no for the whole country is the movement of individuals in all zones, for all non-essential activities. This shall remain strictly prohibited between 7:00 pm to 7:00 am, the Ministry of Home Affairs has stated.

Also not allowed is travel by air, rail, metro, and inter-State movement by road, running of schools, colleges, and other educational and training and coaching institutions; hospitality services, including hotels and restaurants; places of large public gatherings, such as cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes, social, political, cultural and other kinds of gatherings; and, religious places and places of worship for public.

guidelines for lockdown
Image: Courtesy Nikolay Doychinov/AFP

However, if you are in the Green Zone…

..consider yourself lucky, primarily because there have been zero COVID-19 cases in your state for the past 21 days, and then because the loosening of norms is mostly for you. All activities will reopen here except those banned across the country. Also, buses can operate only with half the seating capacity.

Shops selling liquor and tobacco will be allowed — if states want — but they have to maintain the six-feet distance norm, while only allowing five people in at a time.

All goods traffic will be permitted. No state or Union Territory shall stop the movement of cargo for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate pass of any sort is needed for such movement, which is essential for maintaining the supply chain of goods and services across the country during the lockdown period.

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If you are in the Orange Zone…

… in addition to what is permitted for the Red Zone (see below), inter-district movement of individuals and vehicles will be allowed for permitted activities only. You can step out, with four-wheelers being allowed a maximum of two passengers besides the driver. Pillion riding will be allowed on two-wheelers. Taxis and cab aggregators will be permitted with one driver and two passengers.

Same rules for shops selling alcohol and tobacco, as in the Green Zone, will apply.

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If you are in the Red Zone…

..your area is one of the worst hit. However, a large number of activities are allowed in the Red Zone. All industrial and construction activities in rural areas, including MNREGA works, food-processing units and brick-kilns are permitted. A large part of the financial sector remains open, which includes banks, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), insurance and capital market activities, and credit co-operative societies.

Cars with two persons besides the driver, and two-wheelers with a single rider will be allowed. Accessing Ola and Uber is not possible for two more weeks. Buses, rickshaws and auto rickshaws will not ply either.

Single shops can open in urban areas, whether for essential or non-essential goods. Shops in urban areas, for non-essential goods, are not allowed in malls, markets, and market complexes. Opening of alcohol shops are at the discretion of the state; salons, sadly, will remain closed.

e-Commerce will be allowed for essential goods. Unfortunately, e-commerce of non-essentials, like clothes, beauty products etc, will not be allowed in a Red Zone area.

guidelines for lockdown
Image: Courtesy The Organic Grocer

Containment zones, where cases have been identified, will have it tougher. All private security and facility management services, and services provided by self-employed persons such as domestic help, electricians, IT repairs, plumbers, car mechanics and carpenters, except for barbers, will be allowed in all areas, except in containment zones.

Private offices can operate with up to 33 percent strength, with the rest on Work-From-Home.

All private and government employees are encouraged to download the Aarogya Setu contact tracing app.

Besides these, general health guidelines are to be followed. Masks are mandatory at workplaces and public spaces. Take strict hygiene and health care measures like provision of sanitisers, staggered shifts, access control, thermal screening. Spitters will be fined, and violators of the lockdown of any kind will be penalised.

Currently, all major metros in India—Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Ahmedabad—are classified as red zones. Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have the highest number of red zones at 19 and 14 respectively, followed by Tamil Nadu at 12. Delhi’s 11 districts are also marked as red zones.

The MHA earlier on Friday listed 130 districts in the country in red zone, 284 in orange zone and 319 in green zone. This classification is to be followed by states and Union Territories till May 10 and will be revised on a weekly basis or earlier if required.

The global COVID-19 crisis has left each one of us deeply affected and we want to help. Our publishing house, Burda Media India has organised a fundraising campaign to donate RT-PCR test kits to the worst affected areas in India, which will be secured from our testing partner Mylab Discovery Solutions. More details in this story. You can help these kits reach many more by donating here for the cause or by adopting a kit. 

Harleen Kalsi
Harleen feeds off her nomadic spirit and incessant shenanigans on the road to stay alive. When not writing, she is busy searching for a good read/art/act.