The Centre has put out guidelines for states on enforcing lockdowns and containment zones in order to flatten the curve amid spiraling Covid cases. The rules say it is time for such restrictions when the positivity rate is 10 per cent or more for a week and more than 60 per cent hospital beds are occupied.
States have been urged to go for an intensive, local and focused containment network focused on districts, cities and areas based on criteria specified by the Union Home Ministry.
Where or when to go for a lockdown or what the home ministry calls a “large containment zone” has to be evidence-based and done after analysis based on the population affected, the geographical spread, hospital infrastructure, manpower and the ease of enforcing boundaries, says the home ministry note.
But states have been given a broad framework for an “objective, transparent, and epidemiologically sound decision-making” on imposing a lockdown. If the positivity is 10 per cent or more for a week – meaning one in 10 samples are testing positive – and if more than 60 per cent beds, either oxygen-supported or ICU, are occupied by Covid patients.
Restrictions will be enforced for 14 days.
Once identified for containment, the next steps, according to the home ministry are:
- Night curfew – Movement banned at night except for essential activities. The local administration will decide the duration of curfew.
- Banning social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious, festival-related and other gatherings — the guidelines say “the spread of the infection has to be controlled by restricting the mingling of people, the only known host for the COVID-19 virus”.
- Weddings are to be limited to up to 50 and funerals, 20.
- Shopping complexes, movie theatres, restaurants and bars, sports complexes, gym, spas, swimming pool and religious places will be closed.
- Only essential services should continue in both the public and private sector.
- Public transport like railways, metros, buses and cabs can operate at up to half their capacity.
- No restrictions on inter-state and intra-state movement including transportation of essential goods.
- Offices can function with up to half their staff.
- Industrial and scientific establishments can be allowed subject to distancing rules. They will be tested through Rapid Antigen Tests from time to time.
But the Centre says states should make careful analysis of the local situation, areas to be covered, and probability of transmission and decide on their own.
States have been instructed to appoint senior district officials in charge for Covid-dedicated hospitals and create a mechanism for seamless shifting of patients.
They are to coordinate the availability of oxygen, other related logistics and drugs in collaboration with state officials and ensure their rational use.