India's 21-day lockdown begins: Know what's open, what's not
Last night, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India will be kept under lockdown for 21 days starting Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs released a detailed statement explaining what services will remain open and what will be shut. Essential services will be operational and there will be no shortage of food supplies, the government assured. Here's everything you must know.
India's lockdown follows the footsteps of Italy, Spain, and France, but its population makes it gigantic. The longest stay-at-home order was passed to break the transmission chain of coronavirus, which has killed 18,902 globally and infected 422,759. In his second address within a week, PM Modi told Indians staying at homes was the sole way to contain the spread and social distancing applies to everyone.
Despite the assurances related to essential supplies, people stepped out of their homes and rushed to shops to stock supplies. Frantic scenes of people arriving at stores and standing dangerously close to each other surfaced. After his speech ended, PM Modi put out a tweet asking people to not panic while informing that Centre and states were working closely, but people remained dreaded.
To allay fears, MHA released a statement informing that shops, including ration shops (under PDS), dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, animal fodder, will remain open. So will hospitals and all related medical establishments, including manufacturing and distribution units, both in public and private sectors, such as dispensaries, chemists, labs, clinics, nursing homes, ambulance.
The government has said print and electronic media, telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services, and IT-enabled services (for essential services), will function. There will be no restrictions on petrol pumps, LPG, petroleum, and gas retail too. Banks, insurance offices, and ATMs will work, and essential services like sanitation, water supply, and power won't be halted either.
The transport of essential goods, fire, law and order, and emergency services will remain operational. The government said hotels/homestays/lodges that accommodate tourists and also those stranded because of the restrictions will operate. Some of these establishments are being used for quarantine purposes too. In the case of a funeral, not more than 20 people will be allowed to participate in the procession.
Further, the government said the delivery of food, medicines, and medical equipment will carry on. Cold storage and warehousing services, private security services, manufacturing units of essential commodities, will remain operational. Production units, which require continuous process, will function only after obtaining permission from state governments, MHA underlined. SEBI notified capital and debt market services will remain open.
To promote social distancing, all transport, including flights and railways have been suspended. All religious places have been ordered to shut down. Commercial and private establishments, industrial establishments, hospitality establishments, educational institutions, will remain closed. The government ordered that no social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious functions, will be held during this three-week period.