New Delhi: Looking at the rising cases of coronavirus, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday evening extended the lockdown for two more weeks till May 31 and provided more relaxations outside the containment zones including the inter-state movement of buses with mutual consent of states that are expected to be of immediate relief for thousands of migrant workers on the roads. Also Read - Lockdown 4.0: After Centre's Guidelines, Delhi Govt to Announce Plan to Ease Restrictions Today
Giving more relaxations to step up economic activities across the country, the MHA unveiled new guidelines for lockdown 4.0 and allowed shops and markets including barbershops, salons and spas except those in malls to open with staggered timings. As per the guidelines, e-commerce companies have also been allowed to deliver all goods, including those considered non-essential. Also Read - Lockdown 4.0: When Will Delhi Metro Open? Not Before May 31 at Least, Says DMRC
Night curfew Also Read - Social Distancing, Staggered Timing: This is How Shops, Markets to Function During Lockdown 4.0
However, the Centre said that the night curfew will remain prohibited between 7 PM and 7 AM and authorities will ensure strict compliance.
The development comes at a time when the country recorded the highest single-day spike of 4,987 new cases of coronavirus. As per updates, India is now in the 11th position in the overall number of cases among countries with the US topping the tally.
The Health Ministry said that the number of active COVID-19 cases stands at 53,946, while 34,108 people have recovered and one patient has migrated.
The Centre allowed states to demarcate the red, green and orange zones depending upon COVID-19 caseload, a demand made by chief ministers of several states and union territories. The centre also said that the steps should be taken by the states after taking into consideration of parameters outlined by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
As per the guidelines, the hotels, restaurants, cinema halls, malls, swimming pools, gyms will continue to remain shut till May 31. Moreover, all social, political, religious functions, and places of worship will also be closed till May end.
The decision to extend the lockdown comes on a day when the Centre unveiled plans to privatise PSUs in non-strategic sectors and suspend loan default-triggered bankruptcy filings for one year to complete the fifth and final tranche of its economic stimulus package.
Earlier, PM Modi had told the chief ministers that the lockdown 4.0 will have a different set of rules and guidelines in a bid to return to normalcy.
Lockdown extension by states
Just hours ahead of the guidelines of the Centre, the state government of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu announced lockdown extension till May 31. Punjab and Mizoram had earlier announced similar extension till May 31.
Part of the guidelines, the centre allowed inter-state and intra-state movements of passenger vehicles and buses from areas other than the containment zones. However, the guidelines made it clear that bus services will be allowed with mutual consent of states and union territories involved.
On the other hand, the Centre has also left it to the states to decide on the operation of taxis and autorickshaws.
No metro services, schools, colleges
The MHA said that the metro rail services, schools, colleges will remain closed till May end. Also, all regular domestic, international air travel of passengers except domestic air ambulance and evacuation flights will remain prohibited during this period.
However, the Centre has opened sports complexes and stadia but banned the entry of spectators. Restaurants shall be also allowed to operate their kitchen for home delivery of food items.
Soon after the Centre released guidelines, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Centre’s guidelines are largely in line with the proposal sent by his government and that a detailed plan to ease restrictions in the national capital will be announced on Monday.
The Indian Railways, however, said only Shramik Specials, other special trains, and parcel and freight services will operate during the fourth phase of the lockdown.