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With the growing threat of COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the nation must forget about leaving the house for 21 days, however, he assured that essential services would not be affected.

“Forget about leaving your house for the next 21 days, stay where you are,” Prime Minister Modi addressed in a nationwide television broadcast on 24 March, while citing that social distancing is the only way out for the country in its decisive battle against the coronavirus.

Further, Prime Minister stated that the nationwide lockdown will be just like a curfew. “If you won’t follow this lockdown for 21 days then your family may face setback of 21 years, some families will be devested forever,” he warned the citizens.

The novel coronavirus or the pandemic has spread across at least 190 countries, causing a major impact on the global economy and stock market. So far, India has 562 reported cases of the pandemic disease, of which 37 recovered, while 12 have died. In these circumstances, the Government is allotting Rs. 15,000 crores to bolster the infrastructure for the treatment of patients.

Stating that the pandemic was a huge challenge to every country, PM mentioned that even countries like the United States and Italy, who are considered to have good health infrastructure, were still struggling to control the situation.

“In such a situation we have learned from the experience of the countries that have managed to get some control over the surge in cases, and these show that a lockdown for a sustained period of time is the only way to break the chain of infection,” PM Modi said.

Further, PM Modi quoted that it took 67 days for the first 100,000 cases to come up, however, the next 100,000 came up in just 11 days, and further, it took only four days for the next 100,000 cases to appear. “Several families will be destroyed. India is at a stage of the pandemic where our actions will decide our future,” he said.

Subsequently, the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued guidelines on the measures to be taken by Ministries/ Departments of Govt of India, State and Union Territories for containment of coronavirus pandemic and the effective measures and exceptions to the essential services during this 21-day lockdown.

Essential services which will remain open during the 21-day nationwide lockdown

  • Shops including ration shops dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, animal fodder. (District authorities may encourage and facilitate home delivery to minimize the movement of individuals outside their homes)
  • Financial services including banks, insurance offices, and ATMs.
  • Print and electronic media
  • Telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting, and cable services. IT and IT-enabled services only essential services – work from home as much as possible
  • Delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment through e-commerce
  • Petrol pumps, LPG and petroleum, and gas retail and storage outlets
  • Power generation, transmission and distribution units, and services
  • Capital and debt market services as notified by SEBI
  • Cold storage and warehousing services
  • Private security services, Police, Home Guards, Civil Defence, Army, Fire and Emergency Services, Disaster Management, and prisons
  • Hospitals and all other related medical establishments, their transportation
  • Municipal Bodies including Sanitation, Personnel related to Water supply, etc.

Services which will remain closed during the 21-day nationwide lockdown

  • All educational, training, research coaching institutions, etc shall remain closed.
  • All places of worship shall be closed for the public. No religious congregation will be permitted without any exception.
  • All social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious functions, gatherings shall be barred.
  • In the case of funerals, a congregation of not more than 20 persons will be permitted.
  • Offices of Government of India, its autonomous, subordinate Offices and Public Corporations shall remain closed.
  • Offices of State, Union Territory Governments, their Autonomous Bodies, Corporations, etc. shall remain closed.
  • Commercial, Private and Industrial Establishments shall be closed down.
  • All transport services—air, rail, and roadways—shall remain suspended except those for transportation of essential goods, fire, law, and order, and emergency services.

Meanwhile, all persons who have arrived in India after 15 February 2020 and all such persons who have been directed by health care personnel to remain under strict home or institutional quarantine for a period as decided by local health authorities, will be liable to legal action under Section 188 of the IPC, if they violate the restrictions. All the enforcing authorities have been directed to note that if any person violating these containment measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of Section 51- 60 of the Disaster Management Act 2005, besides, legal action under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code 1860. However, such restrictions would not apply to that of essential goods.

Urging people to stay at home PM Narendra Modi stated that “it was the only way to break the chain of transmission”. He further clarified that there was a misconception that social distancing was only for people who were afflicted with the virus, “It is for every citizen, every family and every family member, it is for the prime minister also,” he added while making a fervent appeal to the countrymen not to cross the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ of their homes for the next three weeks.

The lockdown will be in effect till April 14.


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