The government has revised the list of economic activities and services to be allowed from today in parts of the country designated as non-COVID-19 hotspots, or those least affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak.
As per a Home Ministry order released on Sunday, the supply of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies has now been prohibited during the lockdown period. The sale of such goods – like mobile phones, laptops, television sets and refrigerators – had been permitted by the government last week.
Among economic activities and services to be functional are health services (including Ministry of AYUSH) and non-banking financial corporations and micro-finance institutions marked essential services.
Most significantly, a list released by the government after a Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting on Saturday confirmed that all agriculture and horticulture-related activities will be allowed; this was after some chief ministers warned of approaching harvest season and the potential of bumper wheat crops.
The fishing industry (both inland and marine) and the aquaculture industry will also be permitted to function, as will the animal husbandry sector.
Plantation activities, such as those related to tea, coffee and rubber, will be re-opened with a maximum of 50 per cent of employees working at any given time, the government said. Coconut, spice bamboo, areca nut and cocoa plantations, and forest produce by scheduled tribes have also been added to the list.
Construction, in rural areas, of water supply and sanitation, and laying of power lines and telecom optical fibres and cables will also be allowed, according to the home ministry.
The re-opening, albeit in a limited manner, of construction will be good news for the lakhs of unemployed migrant workers and daily labourers who had been left jobless by the ban on activity in this sector under the lockdown ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A detailed tweet posted by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday listed more economic activities and services to be allowed, including certain commercial and private establishments and industries and industrial establishments (both government and private).
All re-opened factories and workplaces, however, will be required to adhere to guidelines regarding social distancing released by the government last week.
Following are other services that will stay open from April 20:
- Financial sector (banks will be open as per normal working hours, ATMs will function)
- Social sector (operation of homes for children, disabled people and those with special needs, as well as senior citizens’ homes and those for destitute people; disbursement of social security and employee pensions will take place, as will operation of anganwadis (for distribution of food to women and children at their homes once in 15 days)
- MNREGA works (with strict social distancing and use of face masks)
- Public utilities (water, sanitation, waste management and power)
- Loading and unloading of goods/cargo, both inter- and intra-state (by rail, air, sea and road)
- Online teaching/distance learning
- Supply of essential goods (local grocery stores and e-commerce retailers)
- Commercial and private establishments (these include print and electronic media, including broadcasting, DTH and cable services; data and call centres (for government activities only); e-commerce companies selling essential goods; courier services; and hotels, homestays and lodges for stranded persons or medical and emergency staff)
- Industries/industrial establishments (government and private industries operating in rural areas and those involved in food processing and the manufacture of medicines and medical equipment)
- Construction activities (roads, irrigation projects and industrial projects in rural areas and where no additional workers are needed)
- Private vehicles for emergency services (medical and veterinary care), procuring essential commodities and for personnel traveling to workplaces in exempted categories, as per instructions of state/union territory authorities
- Offices of Government of India and offices of states and union territories