Centre issues new Covid-19 guidelines for states, forbids local lockdowns

File photo: A healthcare worker wearing PPE collects a swab sample from a policeman, during a check-up campaign for the coronavirus disease set up inside a police station, in Mumbai.
The centre on Wednesday asked states to step up measures to contain the spread of coronavirus cases, suggesting they strictly enforce restrictions in containment zones, step up contact tracing and encourage "COVID-appropriate" behaviour.

States cannot impose local lockdowns without consulting the centre, but they can enforce restrictions like "night curfew", according to guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry. The guidelines will be effective from December 1 and their focus is "to consolidate the substantial gains that have been achieved against the spread of COVID-19".

The ministry urged stricter enforcement of rules like mask-wearing, social distancing and said it will issue formal rules for markets and weekly bazaars.

"Only essential activities shall be allowed in the Containment Zones. There shall be strict perimeter control to ensure that there is no movement of people in or out of these zones, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining supply of essential goods and services," said the guidelines.

"States and UTs (union territories), based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions, with a view to contain the spread of COVID-19 such as night curfew. However, State/ UT Governments shall not impose any local lockdown (State/ District/ sub-division/City level), outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the Central Government,” they said. "Inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods" will not be restricted.

"In cities, where the weekly Case Positivity Rate is in more than 10 percent, States and UTs concerned shall consider implementing staggered office timings and other suitable measures, with a view to reduce the number of employees attending office at the same time, thereby ensuring social distancing,” said the ministry.

With 37,816 new cured cases in a day, India’s recovered cases reached 8,642,771 (93.72 per cent of all confirmed cases so far), while its Covid-19 death toll reached 134,699 (1.46 per cent of all confirmed cases), including the 481 fatalities reported on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the chief ministers of eight states most affected in the coronavirus pandemics, saying the country has to "work together" and "no one can impose any view".

"Our priority is to make vaccine available for all. States should put in the necessary mechanism including cold storage," he said.

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