The Centre’s revised guidelines to restart some economic activity come into force on Monday, but there will be no relaxations in the lockdown in most of the big urban centres, including Delhi and Mumbai, since these fall in red zones. Broadly, red zones are areas where Covid-19 patients are increasing, orange zones are areas where patients have been found but numbers are not rising, and green zones are where there are no positive cases.
Karnataka rolled back its decision to relax the lockdown. It withdrew an announcement allowing two-wheelers to move to non-Covid hotspots and retracted permission for IT-BT companies to operate with one-third workforce. It said construction activities will be allowed, except in hotspots, with the condition that labourers will have to stay at the site with all facilities while maintaining social distancing norms. Inter-district travel continues to be banned till May 3.
Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao went a step ahead by extending the lockdown till May 7, four days beyond the May 3 timeline declared by the Central government. Passenger flight services will also not be allowed till May 7 though the aviation ministry is contemplating the launch of services from May 4. The CM even banned food delivery apps from functioning from Monday.
Andhra Pradesh decided to allow significant economic activity, including construction, manufacturing, and IT companies to operate. Tamil Nadu said it would decide on Monday after CM K Palaniswami receives the report of an expert committee.
Gujarat will allow factories to resume work on Monday but only those functioning outside municipal limits. CM Vijay Rupani has asked factory owners to make arrangements for accommodation of their employees within the units.
Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray said he would not allow resumption of industrial activity in Mumbai Metropolitan Region and areas under Pune Municipal Corporation, which have seen the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the state. Industrial activity will be allowed in orange and green zones, with precautions. Inter-district transit will be allowed for goods, but not for people. Chief secretary Ajoy Mehta asked industrial establishments to make arrangements for accommodation of workers within factory premises.
Maharashtra said it would provide raw material and supply of grain, if owners can take care of their employees. Also, movement of labour will not be allowed for construction projects in urban areas. “Industries in urban areas will be allowed only if there is availability of labour within that industrial area or dedicated bus service to transport them,” an official said.
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot allowed construction and other economic activities, including inter-district transit of migrant labour during the modified lockdown. But said there would be no relaxations in red zones. Andhra Pradesh issued orders relaxing almost the entire gamut of economic activity, barring few businesses like hotels and restaurants, across the green zones and outside municipal limits. Firms launching their operations will have to register with basic information including the number of employees to be engaged.
Uttar Pradesh said it would create local-level jobs for more than half-million migrant labourers, who were forced to return after the lockdown started. CM Yogi Adityanath was slated to hold a meeting in the evening to take a decision on relaxing the lockdown. “There is a proposal to defer the withdrawal of lockdown in districts that have more than 10 positive cases,” an official said.
Four districts in West Bengal, including parts of north and central Kolkata, have been declared red zones. However, nearly 90 per cent of the cases in the state are from Kolkata and Howrah. The state has allowed trade in bidis, tea, flower, and other commodities, capping the workforce at 25 per cent. Construction work and irrigation has been allowed, provided local workers are sourced. From Monday, the state will also allow factories to reopen on a case-to-case basis.
Sikkim, the only state without a reported positive Covid-19 case, is considering a partial lift in the lockdown.
In Odisha, all agricultural and horticultural activities, fishing aquaculture industry, harvesting and processing have been allowed. The state has also allowed industries located in rural areas to open up. “Manufacturing and other industrial establishments, including MSMEs with access control in special economic zones and export oriented units, industrial units and industrial townships, are allowed to function. These establishments should make arrangements for stay of workers within their premises,” a notification read.
Punjab ruled out any relaxation but for those related to harvest and procurement of grains. Madhya Pradesh divided the state into three zones, and said no economic activity would be allowed in red zones of Bhopal, Ujjain, and Indore. Uttarakhand and Haryana have also divided the state into three zones, allowing economic activity in safe zones. Chhattisgarh, which has largely escaped the scourge of coronavirus, has allowed economic activity.
Aneesh Phadnis, Vinay Umarji, Dasarath Reddy, T E Narasimhan, Samreen Ahmad, Virendra Rawat, Jayajit Dash, Avishek Rakshit, Sandeep Kumar and Archis Mohan contributed to the story