MHA eases COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, allows registered shops selling non-essential goods to open
New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday (April 24) issued order to allow shops selling non-essential goods to open, easing lockdown restriction. This order is applicable to shops in market complexes under the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, according to an MHA statement.
The order clarifies that it is not applicable to shopping complexes and malls but only to local shops registered with the municipal corporation, adding "In Sub-clause 1 (x), the term 'shopping complexes' is replaced with 'market complexes within the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities."
The order makes inclusions in sub-clause (xiii) and (xiv) under Clause 14 on commercial and private establishments to include all shops registered under the Shops and Establishment Act of the respective states and union territories.
The order further says, "All shops, including neighborhood shops and standalone shops, shops in residential complexes, within the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, registered under the the Shops and Establishment Act of the respective State/UT, except shops in market complexes and multi-brand and single brand malls, with 50% strength of workers with wearing of masks and social distancing being mandatory."
The order is in continuation of the Ministry of Home Affairs' order number 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated April 15, 2020.
Earlier in the day, the government said that COVID-19 situation is "especially serious" in major or emerging hotspots like Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad, Chennai and Thane, and rushed inter-ministerial central teams (IMCT) to monitor the situation in these cities.
The MHA assessment came on a day when Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra said the number of COVID-19 patients in the Gujarat capital may grow to eight lakh by the end of May if the current four-day period of doubling of the cases continues. So far, Ahmedabad city has reported 1,638 cases, the highest in Gujarat which accounted for over 2,600 infections.
According to the MHA statement, violations of lockdown measures reported in some parts of the country posed a serious health hazard to public and may lead to the spread of COVID-19, adding "The situation is especially serious in major hotspot districts or emerging hotspots like Ahmedabad and Surat (Gujarat), Thane (Maharashtra), Hyderabad (Telangana), and Chennai (Tamil Nadu)."
The central team visiting Kolkata to assess the COVID-19 situation, meanwhile, wrote to the West Bengal government seeking a detailed report on the functioning of the coronavirus deaths audit committee and a meeting with its members as it expressed displeasure over the arrangements in hospitals and quarantine centres.
Four teams headed by Additional Secretary-level officers will visit Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad and Chennai, MHA Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava told a press conference.
These teams will be in addition to the six IMCTs constituted earlier, she said. The teams have been constituted for a spot assessment of the COVID-19 hotspot districts.