Coronavirus Lockdown: States Draw Up Exit Plans For Green Zones

Coronavirus Lockdown: States Draw Up Exit Plans For Green Zones
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The Union Home Ministry stated on Wednesday that fresh guidelines with regard to the coronavirus outbreak in the country and the ongoing lockdown will be issued extending relaxations to several states from May 4.

The Union Home Ministry stated on Wednesday that fresh guidelines with regard to the coronavirus outbreak in the country and the ongoing lockdown will be issued extending relaxations to several states from May 4. Details of the new measures being taken by the Central government are likely to be communicated soon. States are now looking at exit strategies from the ongoing nationwide lockdown imposed by the Centre due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his video conference with chief ministers of various states earlier this week, urged all states to draw up a lockdown exit plan based on three categories of COVID-19 transmission. These three zones would be 1) red zones to be treated as containment zones, 2) Orange zones where strict vigil as per guidelines would need to be kept and 3) green zones where economic activity can be restarted.

In its guidelines of April 15, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had spelt out the definition of a hotspot stating that an area or cluster of large coronavirus spread will be determined according to the criteria laid down by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The decision of determining containment zones was left to the state governments and local authorities by the Union Health Ministry.

How are zones categorised?

Red Zone

A red zone is seen as one which has the highest caseload districts contributing to more than 80% of cases in India or highest caseload districts contributing to more than 80% of cases for each state in India or districts which have a doubling rate lower than four days.

State governments and local authorities will need to identify hotspots and ensure that a strict containment strategy is implemented on the ground there. State government authorities are required to place stringent restrictions on movement in these hotspot districts and containment zones. Only essential services are to be allowed in these zones and strict perimeter control followed.

170 districts in the country were identified as COVID-19 hotspot districts, but this figure has now come down to 129 over the past few weeks. 47 hotspot districts with clusters in 25 states and Union Territories were identified earlier.

Orange Zone

A hotspot district could potentially turn into an orange zone if no fresh cases are reported from there in a period of 14 days. Under the orange zone limited business and farming activities are allowed.

MSMEs which are connected to the manufacture of essential items like Atta, Dal and edible oils are permitted to function.

Green Zone

If no fresh case has been reported in a hotspot in 28 days, it can be declared a green zone. The MHA in its guidelines had permitted the easing of several restrictions in green zones.

Essential services and small-scale industries are allowed to function, as also offices with limited occupancy provided they follow norms of social distancing.

Educational institutions, large gatherings and Interstate travel are yet to receive a green signal.

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