New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs Wednesday added a few more categories under ‘essential goods and services’, which are exempted from the 21-day-long nationwide coronavirus lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday.
According to a source in the ministry, the decision was taken to ensure the manufacture of essential goods like medicines and food material, and their delivery through cargo services.
Soon after the PM announced the lockdown Tuesday night, panic ensued, with many rushing to grocery stores to stock up on rations. Meanwhile, multiple online grocery providers such as BigBasket and Grofers temporarily halted their deliveries, as their cargo services were stopped by the police amid confusion on whether they should be allowed to move or not.
Here are the new additions to the list.
Government and related services
According to the revised guidelines, under the ‘financial services’ head, the Controller General of Accounts’ pay and accounts offices, financial advisers and field officers have now been exempted. The guidelines, however, specify that the department is to work with bare minimum staff.
Customs clearance at ports, airports and borders; RBI and its related markets and entities like NPCI, CCIL; payment system operators and standalone primary dealers have also been exempted.
Resident commissioners of states in the national capital have also been exempted, for coordinating Covid-19-related activities.
Forest officers too have been exempted.
“Staff required to operate and maintain zoo, nurseries, wildlife, fire-fighting of forest, watering plantation, patrolling, have been added to the list,” the guidelines state.
Employees of the social welfare department, which runs homes for children, senior citizens, destitute, women, widows, observation homes, have also been given exemption, but have been asked to work with bare minimum staff.
Vets, pharmacies and more services
The government has also put veterinary hospitals, pharmacies, including Jan Aushadhi Kendras, and pharmaceutical research labs under essential services, giving them exemption.
IT vendors who aid banking operations, banking correspondent and ATM operation and cash management agencies, too can now move around during the lockdown.
Data and call centers that are involved with government activities will also be operational.
Under the revised guidelines, the manufacturing units of essential goods like pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw material and intermediates, will remain operational.
Manufacturing units for packaging material for food items, drugs, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, will also operate.
Besides that, shops for seeds and pesticides, too will be open.
The government also stated that coal and mineral production, transportation, supply of explosives and activities incidental to mining operations, will also be exempted.
Moreover, operations of railways, airports and sea ports for cargo movement, relief and evacuation, and their related operational organisations, have also been allowed.
“Inter-state movement of goods/ cargo for in land and exports” is allowed, the revised guidelines say, as is “Cross land border movement of essential goods including petroleum products and LPG, food products, medical supplies”.