States issue guidelines for extended lockdown
Maharashtra decided to continue with a hard lockdown in Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Thane, overlooking the exemptions provided by the Centre for red zones, from where the most number of cases have been reported, and allowed liquor sales but not that of tobacco products.
A day after the Centre extended lockdown till May 17, most states decided to follow the home ministry’s guidelines allowing several activities in the green and orange zones to kickstart economy and official work, with a few exceptions.
Maharashtra decided to continue with a hard lockdown in Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Thane, overlooking the exemptions provided by the Centre for red zones, from where the most number of cases have been reported, and allowed liquor sales but not that of tobacco products. Neighbouring Gujarat decided industries units across the state, except in containment zones, can resume operations fully.
Kerala decided not to open liquor shops or allow public transport or restaurants ; on April 19, it allowed all these services but reversed its decision after a reprimand from the Centre. Andhra will start liquor manufacturing in rural areas from Monday to boost state finances. Karnataka decided to open liquor shops across the state, except in containment zones.
Assam opened its border with the neighbouring states for the first time since the lockdown came into force on March 25 to allow stranded persons to return. Uttarakhand said it could allow state residents from Covid free districts to visit the Char Dham , the four holy sites of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
West Bengal on Sunday is expected to announce its own lockdown norms for only four red zones as against 10 decided by the Central government. Officials said that there could be relaxation for jute mills, tea gardens, allowing some public transport in non-Covid districts and opening of standalone shops across the state.
The Centre on Friday extended the lockdown till May 17 , but allowed almost all activities, except opening of malls, educational institutions, restaurants and hotels, running of public transport , inter-state travel and social, political and religious gatherings, in about 370 green districts. It also allowed opening of all medical facilities in green, orange and red zones, asking states to prescribe social distancing norms.
The Maharashtra government issued a state specific lockdown notification similar to the Central one but had more stringent provisions for red zones including in Mumbai and Pune, where the number of coronavirus positive cases is high. While the Centre allowed standalone shops and offices to resume work with 33% staff in private firms red zones, Maharashtra did not. Even the industrial relaxations given by the Centre such as allowing industries to function in non-municipal areas in red zones has not been allowed, except for essential goods. The central guidelines allow states to pass their own, as long as they are tougher ; no dilution is allowed in the central guidelines, though.
However, Maharashtra allowed all pre-monsoon related work including “protection of building, shuttering, flood protection, structural repairs, demolition of unsafe buildings’’ including in red zones with social distancing norms.
In non-red zones, liquor shops will open as per Centre’s guidelines but tobacco and pan shops will continue to be closed. “Liqour shops will not be allowed to operate in the red zones but will be kept open in green and orange zones for now,” a Maharashtra government official said on condition of anonymity.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said public transport will not be allowed in any zones and liquor outlets will remain closed till May 17 throughout the state. He also announced a series of measures to protect aged and people who have co-morbid conditions.
The CM said easing of some of the norms will affect the advantage the state achieved so far. “Opening of liquor shops will result in crowding. We want to avoid it,” he said. After Punjab, where liquor shops will open in non-Covid areas from Monday, Kerala stands second in per capita liquor consumption in the country. Going with the Centre’s guidelines, Kerala allowed private cars only three persons will be allowed including the driver and no pillion rider on two-wheelers but continued the ban on public transport.
Karnataka excise minister H Nagesh said standalone liquor shops will open except in containment zones from Monday. The state had been losing about Rs 1800 crore per month because of liquor outlets being shut.
The state government allowed reopening of the garment sector, a big employer, and other industries with one-third staff. Karnataka CM B S Yediyurappa wrote to his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackrey requesting him to release 6 TMC of water for ensuring drinking water purposes to North Karnataka districts of Belgavi, Vijaypura, Bagalkot, Kalaburgi, Yadagiri and Raichur.
Andhra Pradesh government on Saturday allowed manufacturing of Indian Made Foreign Liquor and beer in the state with immediate effect. There are in all 21 big and small breweries and distilleries in the state, said an order issued by Commissioner of Distilleries and Breweries, D Vasudeva Reddy.
At a review meeting on Saturday, chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy ordered the officials to identify the containment zones. State government officials added that after Monday at least 50% of industries will resume operations. Telangana will announce its lockdown norms only after cabinet meeting on Monday.
On Saturday, Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that the state will open its borders with other states in the northeast from Sunday to allow return of residents in their own vehicles and in buses.
“For those who don’t have own means of transport, we will be sending buses to pick them up within a few days. Notifications in this regard will be issued soon,” he said, while launching a helpline No: 7428159966 for persons from the state stranded in other parts of the country. Nearly two million Assamese workers are stranded outside the state.
Sarma said that the government’s move to fly back 852 patients from the state undergoing treatment outside has met with roadblock after two cancer patients in Mumbai tested positive for Covid-19. Assam has recorded 42 Covid-19 positive cases till date.
The Uttarakhand government is likely to allow pilgrims from within the state to visit Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines, which were opened this week, from May 4. Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said that from May 4, inter-district movement will be allowed in the green zones of the state allowing people to visit Char Dham shrines while maintaining social distancing. All the four shrines are in the green zones. “We will clarify with the central government guidelines first as to whether movement from orange to green zones can be allowed or not, but those who wish to go in their private cars can be allowed after May 4,” said cabinet minister, Madan Kaushik.
In Himachal, the government allowed curfew relaxation from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and decided to waive electricity bills of hotels. Chief minister Jairam Thakur also constituted three ministerial committees to suggest measures for revival of economy. All offices will open in Himachal with 30% attendance.
(With state bureau inputs)