New Delhi: As the number of COVID-19 cases rose to 324 in India, the central and state governments announced a slew of complete and partial lockdowns Sunday to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. The governments also assured the public that the availability of essential services will not be impacted.
The biggest step has been the central government announcing the lockdown of 80 districts which have reported COVID-19 cases, including the entire national capital. For a full list of districts under lockdown, please click here.
Meanwhile, the Indian Railways has cancelled all passenger trains until 31 March. Its goods services will continue to ply, to ensure seamless supply of essential commodities across the country.
Both these decisions were taken by a high-level committee chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba. The committee also advised state governments to “extend the restrictions on the movement of non-essential passenger transport, including inter-state transport buses” as well as metro services, until 31 March.
Accordingly, all metro service operations across the country are being suspended. The first to issue the orders for the same was the Delhi Metro.
Here are the steps being taken in the various cities and states to check the spread of the coronavirus:
The national capital will be on lockdown from Monday 23 March to 12 noon hours on 31 March. Section 144 of the CrPC, which prohibits the assembly of five or more people, is being imposed in the city, and will be in effect from 9 pm Sunday to midnight on 31 March.
The Delhi Police has made it clear that any person contravening this order will be punishable under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobedience of an order, which includes imprisonment or fine or both).
All borders that Delhi shares with neighbouring states are to be sealed.
The Delhi Metro has suspended its operations till 31 March, and will not even operate for those covered under essential services.
All taxi services including cab aggregators like Ola and Uber will also not be allowed to operate. Only DTC buses will run — at not more than 25 per cent capacity — for persons engaged in essential services.
For basic purchases to continue, dairies, grocery stores, chemists, milk shops, petrol pumps, ATMs and banks will remain open.
The Delhi government has already closed down malls, restaurants and bars. While home-delivery and takeaway will continue, dining at restaurants has been discontinued till 31 March. Chemists, grocery stores and vegetable stores in malls will remain open during this period.
Commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices and weekly markets will remain closed. Construction activities have also been suspended.
The government has announced a lockdown in 15 districts due to the coronavirus — Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Agra, Prayagraj, Kanpur, Varanasi, Bareilly, Lucknow, Saharanpur, Meerut, Lakhimpur, Muzaffarnagar, Moradabad, Gorakhpur and Azamgarh.
The lockdown will be imposed from 23 to 25 March.
UP roadways’ services have been suspended until that date too, and the government has also said no bus will leave the state until further orders.
The government has also appealed to the people to perform prayers inside their houses and not visit religious place for worship.
It has also announced that the state government will give lakhs of daily wage labourers and construction workers Rs 1,000 per month to meet their needs.
The West Bengal government Sunday ordered a lockdown which comes into effect from 5pm on 23 March to midnight on 27 March.
All public transport will be suspended, while commercial establishments, shops and offices will also remain shut. Most factories and godowns have been asked to down their shutters for the time being.
The state government has also banned the congregation of more than seven persons in any public place. Any person found violating the new regulations shall be punishable under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.
Essential services such as pharmacies, medical shops, market places (selling groceries, food items, etc) and petrol pumps will remain open. E-commerce of groceries and home delivery of food will continue.
People working in the government and private healthcare sectors, law and order, banks, the media, food supplies etc are exempted from the movement restriction. However, there will be identity checks, and the district magistrates, superintendents of police and commissioners are have empowered to enforce the law.
Higher secondary exams have also been postponed.
A lockdown will be imposed on all major cities in Maharashtra until 31 March. Section 144 will be imposed across the state with effect from Sunday midnight.
All offices, restaurants and shops will remain shut in the Mumbai Metropolitan Area (comprising Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Panvel), Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and Nagpur.
Railway and metro services will be shut, as everywhere else.
The Maharashtra government has also announced the closure of buses run by the civic corporations, private operators, state-run transport and inter-city services in these cities.
A decision on sealing the state’s borders will be taken shortly, the government has said.
The administration also announced that the attendance required of government employees has been scaled down to 5 per cent from 25 per cent.
The Punjab government has ordered a complete lockdown of the state until 31 March.
Government officials said all essential services will be available during the period. Banks, ATMs, grocery stores and medicine shops and petrol stations will not be shut.
Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh clarified that there will be no curfew during the lockdown period, but restrictions under Section 144 shall remain imposed.
Health department officials add that strict home quarantine for 14 days (excluding the day of arrival in India) shall be observed by all foreign returnees (who landed in India on or after 7 March), as well as their contacts and other persons at risk.
It’s also mandatory for all foreign returnees to contact the district administration (numbers 104/112) and register themselves for home quarantine, failing which, they shall be liable for legal action.
The government has also authorised the general public to keep a look out for persons with quarantine stamps on their arms who are found roaming outside. The public has been asked to immediately report such persons to the police.
Inter-state bus service has also been suspended bsides public transport in number of districts.
The government had earlier announced a partial lockdown in the state Saturday in the Jalandhar, Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Bathinda and Nawanshahr districts.
The union territory of Chandigarh, which also serves as the capital of Punjab and Haryana, will also see a complete lockdown.
All non-essential establishments, including offices, schools, colleges and factories in the city will remain closed till 31 March. All public transport shall also remain suspended.
The UT administration said in a statement that people are advised not to believe in rumours, and to take all preventive steps as being communicated from time to time.
People were also advised to stay indoors and not to come out “unless there is urgency”.
Karnataka was the first state in the country to announce a complete lockdown of a district — Kalaburagi — where the first COVID-19 death in India was reported.
After having announced prohibitory orders in three districts of Davangere, Kalaburagi and Kodagu, the state government Sunday announced that nine districts, including Bengaluru (rural and urban), will be on total lockdown.
The other districts are Chikkaballapur, Kodagu, Mangaluru, Mysuru, Kalaburagi, Dharwad and Belagavi.
The state has sealed its borders over concerns about how the rising number of cases in neighbouring states may contribute towards the spread of COVID-19, because panic has been forcing people to return to their hometowns. The government has asked people not to travel to villages from cities for the next 15 days.
The government has also announced that free rations for the next two months will be distributed at one go, to ensure there is no shortage of essential supplies.
Karnataka, which had been screening only international passengers at its airports, will now screen all domestic passengers too. Inter-state buses have been suspended and public transport has been restricted to help only essential services. Bengaluru’s Namma Metro has reduced its number of trips to control crowds and ensure social distancing.
All establishments have been asked to shut down their air conditioning systems, and restaurants are being allowed to run their kitchens only for takeaways. Industrial establishments have been asked to deploy 50 per cent of their employees on alternate days.
In Kerala, the government has locked down seven COVID-19 affected districts — Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthittta, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Mallapuram, Kannur and Kasargode. Kasargode has already been locked down for a week.
The Kerala government emphasised that all earlier restrictions, including shutting down of malls, theatres, schools, as well as restrictions on conducting events including marriages, religious festivals etc., will continue.
The Andhra Pradesh government has announced a complete lockdown until 31 March, with all public transport suspended.
The government has arranged a 100-bed isolation ward in every assembly constituency. A 200-bed isolation ward in every district headquarters has also been organised to help treat COVID-19 patients.
Andhra Pradesh’s borders with adjoining states have been sealed, and all schools, colleges and coaching centres have been closed.
A public appeal has been made to postpone all cultural events and avoid non-essential travel.
The Tamil Nadu government has announced a lockdown of three of its districts — Chennai, Erode and Kanchipuram. Entry to four beaches in and around Chennai — Marina, Elliots, Thiruvanmiyur and Pallavakam — has been closed until further notice.
Tamil Nadu has also sealed its borders to all neighbouring states.
The Telengana government has announced a total lockdown until 31 March. State borders have also been sealed, and all public transport suspended.
The government has announced financial aid of Rs 1,500 to every family below the poverty line. Also, 12 kg rice per head will be distributed to such families.
There is no major lockdown ordered across the Northeastern states, as no positive COVID-19 cases have been reported there. However, the states have announced their own measures, such as partial shutdowns, depending on the threat perception.
The state has closed down shops except pharmacies, petrol pumps and grocery stores, beginning Sunday midnight.
Commercial passenger vehicles, both public and private, shall not ply in the state until further orders.
Vehicles carrying inter-state transit passengers will be allowed to ply until Sunday midnight. Public movement has also been restricted, except for procuring essential supplies.
All inter-state entry points will be sealed except for movement of security forces, essential commodities and medical equipment and supplies. The drivers of these vehicles are subject to screening.
The state has restricted operations of local taxis and auto-rickshaws.
On Monday (23 March) and Thursday (26 March), 25 per cent of local taxis and auto-rickshaws in the East Khasi Hills, West Jaintia Hills and West Garo Hills districts shall be allowed to operate. They will remain off the roads on 24 and 25 March, and again from 27 to 29 March.
The Arunachal Pradesh government also ordered a lockdown Sunday, which will be in effect from 5pm Monday (23 March) to midnight on 31 March.
Like the West Bengal government, Arunachal Pradesh has also invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act and exercised the powers conferred under sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Act to frame the Arunachal Pradesh Epidemic Disease, (Prevention of COVID-19) Regulations, 2020.
No public transport will ply on the roads, and all shops and commercial services will remain shut, barring essential services. Other people are required to stay home.
(With inputs from Aneesha Bedi, Chitleen Sethi, Madhuparna Das, Prashant Srivastava, Rohini Swamy and Snehesh Alex Philip)
(This report has been updated to include the Arunchal Pradesh government’s declaration of a lockdown)