New lockdown guidelines issued by Home Ministry
Farming and manufacturing units for pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, IT sector among activities that are permitted
The government on Wednesday came out with detailed guidelines permitting activities across a range of sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and transport. The guidelines, issued by the Union Home Ministry a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced extension of the countrywide coronavirus lockdown till May 3, focus on job creation, getting manufacturing in key sectors back on track, and ensuring seamless supply of essential goods across the country.
The revised guidelines will, however, not be applicable to the containment zones demarcated by state, Union Territory, and district administrations.
Agriculture and Transport Sectors
All agricultural activities will remain fully functional, including:
- Farming operations by farmers and farm workers in the field
- Agencies involved in procurement of agricultural products
- Government notified mandis (markets) and direct marketing
- Agriculture and farm machinery, fertilizers and pesticides
In a relief to the trucking industry, the guidelines allow the movement of all trucks and goods carrier vehicles with two drivers and one helper; they will be also allowed to ply empty while going to pick up goods or returning after a delivery. Allied highway services like repair shops and dhabas will be permitted.
Dairy, Poultry, and Livestock
The supply of milk and milk products, poultry and livestock farming, and animal feed manufacturing plants will be allowed. The guidelines also permit fisheries and movement of fish/shrimp and fish products.
Tea, coffee, rubber, and cashew plantations can now resume operations, including processing, packaging, and sale with a maximum of 50% workers.
To ensure that people have enough jobs, MNREGA works have been allowed with adherence to strict social distancing norms. Priority will be given to irrigation and water conservation works.
Banking and Financial Services, IT Sector
The guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry also permit:
- Operations in the banking, financial, and insurance sectors, including bank branches and ATMs
- Manufacturing and other industrial establishments with access control in SEZs, EoUs, industrial estates and industrial townships
- Manufacture of IT hardware and of essential goods and packaging
- Data and call centres for government activities
- Government approved Common Service Centres at the panchayat level
Supply of Essential Goods
All facilities in the supply chain of essential goods - manufacture, whole and retail including e-commerce - are allowed without restrictions on opening and closing times.
Shops and carts selling ration, food and grocery, hygiene items, fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products, poultry, meat, and fish will be allowed to operate, again without restrictions on opening and closing times.
The guidelines advise that social distancing should be followed at all times. At the same time, district authorities have been advised to encourage home delivery of these essential items to ensure that the minimum number of people step outside their homes.
The Railways will be allowed to operate services for goods and parcels while air transport is permitted for cargo movement, relief, and evacuation. Sea ports and Inland Container Depots (ICDs) will also be open for similar operations.
The activities that will be permitted include:
- E-commerce companies, including the operation of their vehicles
- Courier services
- Private security and facility management services
- Hotels, homestays, lodges and motels, accommodating tourists and persons stranded due to the lockdown
- Services by self-employed persons like plumbers, electricians, motor mechanics and carpenters
Manufacturing and Industries
The new guidelines allow:
- Coal production, mining, and their transportation
- Oil and gas exploration and refiniries
- Food processing industries in rural areas
- Jute industries
- Brick kilns
- Attachments area