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LawFlash

COVID-19 in India: Lockdown Guidelines Revised

April 22, 2020

The nationwide lockdown in India in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been extended until May 3. The Indian government has permitted the operation of certain additional business activities from April 20 onwards.

Revised Lockdown Measures

On April 15, the Ministry of Home Affairs extended the lockdown till May 3 and issued revised guidelines (Revised Guidelines) on the lockdown. The Revised Guidelines set out, among others, (a) the additional activities that are permitted from April 20 onwards, and (b) the standard operating procedures to be followed by establishments and work places that are permitted to operate. The Revised Guidelines aim to mitigate the economic distress faced by the people as a result of the lockdown that came into effect on March 25.

The additional activities that are permitted from April 20 include the following:

  • IT and ITES establishments, operating with 50% workforce
  • Ecommerce companies in relation to essential goods
  • All facilities in the supply chain of essential goods, including the manufacturing, wholesale, or retail of such goods through brick-and-mortar stores or ecommerce
  • Courier services
  • Cold storage and warehousing services at ports, airports, railway stations, container depots, and other links in the logistics chain
  • Agricultural/horticultural activities, including manufacturing of fertilizers, pesticides, and seeds, and the sale of agricultural machinery and spare parts
  • Operation of tea, coffee, and rubber plantations with 50% workforce
  • Harvesting, processing, packaging, sale, and marketing of bamboo, coconut, spices, cocoa, and areca nut
  • Industries operating in rural areas
  • Manufacturing and industrial establishments with access control in special economic zones and export oriented units, industrial estates, and townships, subject to certain conditions
  • Construction of roads, irrigation projects, buildings, and all kinds of industrial projects in rural areas and industrial estates
  • Construction of renewable energy projects
  • Production units which require continuous process and their supply chain
  • Manufacturing of IT hardware
  • Oil and gas exploration/refinery
  • Manufacturing units of packaging material

The activities permitted by the Revised Guidelines cannot be undertaken if they fall within geographical areas demarcated as hotspots or containment zones (i.e., areas that have a large number of COVID-19 cases) by the relevant states/local authorities, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. In such demarcated areas, only essential services and certain government services are permitted.

Standard Operating Procedures

The additional permitted activities set out in the Revised Guidelines can only be undertaken once the relevant establishments and workplaces have put in place arrangements implementing the standard operating procedures set out in the Revised Guidelines. The local authorities in the relevant states will verify compliance with the standard operating procedures, which include

  • providing transportation facility to workers, with the vehicles operating at 30%-40% capacity;
  • thermal screening of persons entering and leaving the workplace;
  • staggered working hours;
  • mandatory medical insurance for workers;
  • ban on nonessential visitors;
  • disinfecting all areas in the premises; and
  • providing a list of hospitals/clinics close to the workplace.

Noncompliance with the Revised Guidelines can result in an offence under applicable law, which may include imprisonment and/or a fine.

By expanding the list of permitted activities, the Revised Guidelines aim to gradually increase economic activity in the country, to alleviate the social and economic impact of the lockdown. However, India continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases. Both the federal and state governments are likely to issue further directions on the lockdown as the situation progresses.  

In view of the extended nationwide lockdown, the travel restrictions discussed in our earlier Lawflash, COVID-19 in India: Travel Restrictions and Lockdown Measures, have been extended till May 3.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force

For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. We also have launched a resource page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a daily digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts.

Contacts

If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Palo Alto
Rahul Kapoor

Dubai
Ayman Khaleq

London
Pulina Whitaker

Moscow
Jonathan H. Hines

Singapore
Anu Liza Jose*
Suet-Fern Lee*

*A Registered Foreign Lawyer of Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC, a Singapore law corporation affiliated ‎with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP