New Delhi: The first day of ‘unlock 1’, or the phase-wise withdrawal of the two-month-long Covid-19 lockdown, brought bustle across India’s markets Monday, but states also kept in place some individual restrictions.
Kerala and Delhi’s borders are sealed, Punjab reopened its spas, among other businesses, and street food vendors are back in Chhattisgarh, although only for takeaways.
According to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines released Saturday, states and union territories have been allowed to restart all activities, with a few exceptions to be decided on in a phase-wise manner.
Religious places and shopping malls, the guidelines state, remain closed until 8 June, while the government is looking at July to take a decision on schools and other educational institutes. Phase 3 will involve decisions on Metro services, international air travel, cinemas, gymnasiums, swimming pools and entertainment parks.
However, states and union territories are at liberty to decide how to implement these guidelines.
As a result, shops, commercial establishments, retail outlets in markets, offices – both government and private — were back in action Monday, as were autorickshaws and taxis, but some states maintained certain restrictions from earlier phases of the lockdown. ThePrint brings a round-up from different states.
Offices, both government and private, commercial establishments, shops, and a few salons opened in Delhi, but the union territory decided to seal its borders with Noida and Gurugram for a week.
Interstate commuters, especially those travelling to Delhi from neighbouring states, faced a harrowing time as traffic police turned them back. Intra-city public transport — except the Metro — plied on Delhi roads, although with a limited numbers of passengers.
The movement of individuals for all non-essential activities remains prohibited between 9 pm and 5 am, in line with central government guidelines.
Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh
Both Punjab and Haryana largely followed the guidelines issued by the central government for Unlock 1.
In Punjab, which imposed a lockdown days before the central government did on 25 March, with more stringent conditions, the government allowed pillion riders on two-wheelers. This brought much relief to local residents.
“It was becoming very difficult to commute for work where two people were required. Today, I am going with my wife to meet her relatives in Mani Majra after almost two months,” said Girish Tuteja, a resident of Mohali who has a motorcycle.
Barber shops, beauty parlours and spas reopened too, but they are mandated to operate between 7 am and 7 pm. The time is 8 am to 8 pm for liquor vends.
“We still have to get the standard operating procedure required for the opening of beauty parlours. Until these are issued by the government, we are getting the parlour cleaned and sanitised and should be ready to work in a few days from now,” said Sheetal, who runs a beauty parlour in Model Town, Jalandhar.
The Haryana government allowed offices to open with 100 per cent attendance of Group A and B officers and 75 per cent attendance of Group C and D employees.
Both Punjab and Haryana have decided to follow the central government’s directions regarding educational institutions.
Haryana will impose no restrictions on inter-state and inter-district movement of people and goods. Shops will remain open from 9 am to 7 pm.
In joint capital Chandigarh, the administration has fixed shop hours from 10 am to 8 pm. However, the administration will continue to follow the so-called “odd-even” formula — adjacent shops opening on alternate days — in crowded areas, especially roadside markets.
Public buses were deployed in a restricted manner, and taxi services including aggregators like Uber and Ola started operations. But there were few takers on Day One.
Several IT companies continued with their work-from-home policy.
Karnataka was one of the few states that decided to unlock intra-state movement and allowed businesses to reopen before 1 June. A state government official said while people are being allowed to travel freely, a strict watch is being kept on those coming from other states. Those coming in from three high-risk states — Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra — are being sent to compulsory institutional quarantine.
Shops and other commercial establishments opened up in capital Hyderabad, but public bus services are yet to resume. However, public buses have resumed operations in other districts.
Intra-state movement of buses is highly restricted and only short distances between districts are allowed. Kerala has not opened up its borders to allow vehicles from other states to enter yet. Most commercial establishments have resumed operations.
Businesses and almost all shops were allowed to open in the state, but timings differed. In Bilaspur, Jagdalpur and Kanker, the operations window remained limited between 7 am and 6 pm, while it has been extended to 9 pm in other districts.
Street food vendors were allowed to function in capital Raipur and other cities, but only for take-home services. While inter-district bus services did not start, the lone Chhattisgarh Jan Shatabdi was back on track after almost 70 days, carrying a limited number of passengers. Only 80 passengers travelled in the train with 1,200 seats vacant. Two more trains will start running from the Bilaspur zone in the next couple of days.
Most business and commercial activities remained closed, with the state government deciding to permit certain activities like individual exercises in public spaces from 3 June. Subsequent phases have reportedly been outlined to ease the lockdown further.