Unlock 2.0 opens a small window; PM to address the nation at 4 pm today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to address the nation at 4pm on Tuesday.
The Centre on Monday issued guidelines for “unlock 2.0”, but the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in several parts of the country meant it stopped short of reopening schools, colleges, and coaching institutions.

International air travel and metro rail services will also continue to remain shut at least till July 31, and large congregations stay banned. Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra decided to extend the lockdown in several parts of the states until July 31.

“Unlock 2.0” will come into force on Wednesday, July 1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to address the nation at 4pm on Tuesday.

The fresh guidelines, issued by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, stated domestic flights and train services, already allowed, would be further expanded in a calibrated manner.

Under the  fresh guidelines, night curfew has been relaxed. Night curfew will now be from 10 pm to 5 am, instead of 9 pm to 5 am. Shops have been allowed to have, space permitting, more than five people at a time.

“Unlock 1” guidelines, issued on May 30, had ordered reopening religious places, malls, hotels, and restaurants from June 8. It had also stated the decision on reopening schools and other educational institutions would be taken in July after feedback from parents and other stakeholders.

However, the Centre has decided against reopening schools, colleges, and coaching institutions until July 31. In an exception, training institutes run by the Centre and state governments will reopen on July 15.

Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, assembly halls, and similar places will continue to remain shut. Social, political, cultural, religious, and other large congregations will also remain prohibited.

As for containment zones, only essential activities will be allowed at least until July 31. The guidelines stated that states and Union Territories can prohibit certain activities outside containment zones based on their assessment. However, state
governments cannot ban inter-state and intra-state movements of people and goods.

The fresh guidelines said the dates for resuming the remaining prohibited activities would be decided later.
In Maharashtra, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government on Monday announced the ongoing lockdown in the state would be extended till July 31. In view of the increasing cases, the government said restrictions on non-essential activities and movement of people would be re-imposed in Covid-19 hotspots.

“Concerned District Collectors and Commissioners of the Municipal Corporations in the state may enforce certain measures and necessary restrictions in specified local areas on the permitted non-essential activities and movement of persons to control the pandemic,” the state government said. It said unrestricted movement would be allowed for attending offices and in emergencies.

Essential shops remaining open, e-commerce activities for essential and non-essential items, operational industrial units, and home delivery of food will be allowed. 

In Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Madurai, and surrounding areas will continue to be under intense lockdown till July 5 and the current relaxations and curbs will be in force till July 31 for the rest of Tamil Nadu, the government said.

“Total lockdown will continue in Chennai, Madurai and surrounding areas till July 5. From July 6 to July 31, Chennai will revert to pre June 19 relaxed lockdown. From July 6, Madurai will revert to pre June 24 relaxed lockdown,” said the state government in its order. 

After announcing relaxation as part of Unlock 1 across the state from June 1, the Tamil Nadu government had re-imposed intense lockdown in Chennai, Chengelpet, Tiruvallur, and Kancheepuram.

Assam has also announced “total lockdown” in Guwahati from Monday for the next two weeks after an increase in Covid-19 patients.

Punjab has continues to have a partial lockdown over weekends.

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