The Government of India has issued an Order under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and extended the nationwide lockdown period further by two more weeks starting 3rd May. Under part 3 of the lockdown, the Union Ministry of Health, on the basis of risk profiling, has classified districts of the states into three different zones, namely Red Zone, Orange Zone, and Green Zone.
The classification of the districts was done taking into consideration the “incidence of cases, doubling rate, extent of testing, and surveillance feedback.” Previously, the criterion for such classification was based on the number of active cases, and their increasing rate only. The Government has also permitted the resumption of certain economic and day-to-day activities in the districts based on which category of zone they fall in.
The list given by the Ministry comprises of 733 districts and territories, out of which 130 fall under Red Zone, 284 under Orange Zone, and the remaining 319 under Green Zone.
Red Zone: Also known as Hotspots, these are the regions where lockdown measures will be strictly implemented. Those areas which are witnessing a growth in the number of cases fall under this category. As of today, all the metro cities have been identified as Red zones. The states with maximum number of districts included in this category are Uttar Pradesh (19), Maharashtra (14), Tamil Nadu (12), and Delhi (11).
Private vehicles can move in these areas, but only for the permitted/essential activities. A private car can be seated by two passengers and a driver. No pillion rider on two-wheelers allowed. Manufacturing entity that produces, and e-commerce outlets that deal in essential goods and services can operate. Private offices can function but with only 33 percent of the staff, provided that social distancing guidelines are followed.
Green Zone: This category contains the areas which are either ‘coronavirus free’ or have not reported a new case in last 21 days. These regions will be given certain relaxations in the lockdown measures, but would be following social distancing consistently.
Barring the activities that are prohibited across the nation, all other activities are allowed. Buses and bus depots can function, but with not more than 50 percent of the capacity. Trade of all goods is permitted. E-commerce for non-essential activities can take place, and no separate pass is needed for movement.
Orange Zone: This zone included districts which are neither red zone, nor green zone. These are the districts which have a potential to turn into a Red Zone. These regions will be under strict supervision and constant check. A Red Zone can be classified as an Orange Zone if no new confirmed case of infection from the virus is reported for 21 days.
Every economic activity that is permitted in Red Zone is also allowed in Orange Zone. Taxis and Cabs will be able to operate with one driver and up to two passengers, same will be the case with private cars but only for permitted activities. In-situ (on-site) construction will be allowed in urban areas apart from construction of renewable energy projects. Inter-district movement of individuals and vehicles will be allowed for permitted activities only.
The MHA said that for all non-essential activities, movement of individuals in every zone will remain strictly prohibited between 7 PM to 7 AM. Inter-state travel, and movement by air, rail, and metro trains remain prohibited. Hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, and other hospitality outlets will continue to be closed. Colleges, schools, coaching centres, and other educational institutes will remain shut until further notice. Large public gathering will remain banned, therefore places like cinema halls, sports complexes, gyms, health centres, malls will stay shut. Places of worship and other religious places will remain closed. Every kind of cultural, social, or political gatherings are also prohibited till May 17.
Sale of liquor has been permitted in every zone, but those operating from malls, marketing complexes, and containment areas will remain shut. Shops selling liquor, paan, gutka, tobacco will have to follow social distancing measures by making customers stand six feet apart from each other, and entertaining not more than 5 persons at a time. The Government informed that movement of people by air, rail, and road will be allowed for select purposes, and for purposes as permitted by MHA.
- This list is dynamic, thus the districts will be transferred from one category to other based on their situation. It will be revised on a weekly basis.
- The states can add a region into Red or Orange Zones if felt the need to do so but cannot move a region from Red Zones to Orange or Green Zones, without getting a nod from the Centre.
- Some districts which have one or more Municipal Corporations can treat the areas falling under these corporations as different sub-units, and therefore classify them distinctively.
- The Centre has asked the states to identify ‘containment zones’ and ‘buffer zones’ in Red and Orange zones.
- Containment zones will be the ‘Hotspots’ under strict measures. In urban districts the containment zones will be delineated on the basis of residential colony, municipal wards, police station area, or towns, whereas in rural areas the demarcation will be on the basis of villages, gram panchayats etc.
- Buffer zones are the ‘potential hotspots’ which will be under strict surveillance and constantly monitoring the cases related to influenza or severe acute respiratory illness. Also, regions bordering the containment zones will also be understood as buffer zones.
- If not reported a new case in last 21 days, then only a zone can move to a lower level.
Speculations were already rising that PM Modi might announce an extension of the lockdown period, but Government is now also taking steps towards restarting the economy.