As per the revised and consolidated guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) this morning, the ministry has said that "transportation of goods will be permitted without any distinction of essential or non essential." This move soul help activate demand for commercial vehicle services across the country.
On April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation, said that the lockdown in India will have to be extended till May 3, 2020, with a view to arrest the spread of COVID-19. He had added that select necessary activities will be allowed to be opened up from April 20, 2020, in identified areas across India.
In line with that announcement, MHA has issued an order today to allow select additional activities in areas not demarcated as containment zones by States/ UTs/ District Administrations. Furthermore, consolidated revised guidelines have been issued, delineating the prohibited activities across the country, activities allowed in containment zones, and select permitted activities allowed from April 20, 2020 in the rest of the country. The objective is to consolidate the gains achieved during the first phase of lockdown and further slow down the spread of Covid 19 and at the same time provide relief to farmers, labourers and daily wage earners
The activities prohibited include travel by air, rail and road; operation of educational and training institutions; industrial and commercial activities; hospitality services; all cinema halls, shopping complexes, theatres and all social, political and other events.
Goods transport & manufacturing operations with access control permitted
The permitted activities from April 20, 2020 are aimed at ensuring that agricultural and related activities remain fully functional, the rural economy functions with maximum efficiency, employment opportunities are created for daily wage earners and other members of the labour force, select industrial activities are allowed to resume their operations, with adequate safeguards and mandatory standard operating protocols (SOPs) and the digital economy.
Transportation of goods will be permitted without any distinction of essential or non essential. Farming operations, including procurement of agricultural products, agriculture marketing through notified Mandis and direct and decentralised marketing, manufacture, distribution and retail of fertilizers, pesticides and seeds; activities of marine and inland fisheries; animal husbandry activities, including the supply chain of milk, milk products, poultry and live-stock farming; and tea, coffee and rubber plantations are allowed to be functional.
To provide an impetus to the rural economy, industries operating in rural areas, including food processing industries; construction of roads, irrigation projects, buildings and industrial projects in rural areas; works under MNREGA, with priority to irrigation and water conservation works; and operation of rural Common Service Centres (CSCs) have all been allowed. These activities will create job opportunities for rural labor, including the migrant labour force.
Manufacturing and other industrial establishments with access control have been permitted in SEZs, EoUs, industrial estates and industrial townships after implementation of SOP for social distancing. Manufacture of IT hardware and of essential goods and packagings is also allowed. Coal, mineral and oil production are permitted activities.
The government expects that the industrial and manufacturing sectors will see a revival with these measures, and will create job opportunities while maintaining safety protocols and social distancing. The important components of the financial sector (RBI, banks, ATMs, capital and debt markets) will also remain functional, with a view to provide enough liquidity and credit support to the industrial sectors.
Digital economy is critical to the services sector and is important for national growth. Accordingly, e-commerce operations, operations of IT and IT enabled services, data and call centres for Government activities, and online teaching and distance learning are all permitted activities now.
The revised guidelines also permit all health services and the social sector to remain functional; public utilities to function without any hindrance; the supply chain of essential goods to operate without any hindrance; and, important offices of Central and State Governments and local bodies to remain open with required strength.
All in all, the revised consolidated guidelines are aimed at operating those sectors of the economy which are critical from the perspective of rural and agricultural development and job creation, while maintaining strict protocols in areas where safety is paramount to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
National guidelines like mandatory home-made face covers at work places and in public places, strong hygiene and health care measures like provision of sanitisers, staggered shifts, access control and thermal screening remain in place.