According to official data, there are currently 446 active COVID-19 cases in India. On 25 March 2020 (Wednesday), there will be a shutdown of all domestic flights. Early last week all passenger trains were also suspended until 31 March 2020.
Just a short while ago, the Prime Minister made the announcement to lock-down the entire country for a period of 21 days, starting midnight on 24 March 2020.
Earlier, 80 districts across India have been placed under lockdown, while Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, and even Chandigarh are under curfew.
When under a lockdown, gatherings of 5 or more people are prohibited, while in a curfew one cannot leave their residence at all.
In this article, we understand what it means to be under lockdown, what services will and will not function, and what it means for you.
What is a lockdown?
A lockdown is an emergency protocol that prevents people from leaving a given area. A full lockdown will mean you must stay where you are and not exit or enter a building or the given area.
Currently, only a few states are under curfew. As of now, in many states, one is still being allowed to step out and buy groceries, milk, medicines, petrol, and diesel and also to visit the hospital or doctor. Going for a walk, while practising social distancing is also being permitted in many parts as of now.
What remains functioning during a lockdown?
All essential services, like:
- Police, fire, and emergency services.
- Shops selling groceries, vegetables and fruits, milk, meat, fish, animal fodder, and the supply of cooking gas.
- Electricity, water, and other municipal services.
- Banks will be providing only essential services like cash deposits and withdrawals, clearing of cheques, remittances and government transactions. Mobile and internet banking will work.
- Insurance offices
- Print and electronic media
- Internet and broadcasting services
- Home delivery of essentials like food, medicines, and supply of medical equipment through e-commerce
- Private security services
- Canteen services provided by the government and local bodies.
- Funerals; however not more than 20 people to congregate
What will be impacted by the lockdown?
- All shops, commercial establishments, and godowns dealing in non-essential services.
- Schools and educational institutions across the country will remain shut during the lockdown period.
- Inter-state and inter-district services will not be operational from districts affected by COVID-19. For example, Tamil Nadu, which is also under a lockdown, in this statement, issued by the Chief Minister, said, “Barring essential operations, plying of public and private transport; auto and taxi, and both inter- and intra-State transport will be fully banned.”
- An assembly of more than four people outdoors is prohibited.
- No seminars, conferences, other social events will be allowed to take place.
- All places of worship.
Should I panic?
Not at all. Yes, you will have to remain indoors and not step out, but that does not mean that you will not have access to essential goods like groceries, milk, vegetables, and medicines.
A lockdown can trigger feelings of anxiety and depression in people, and therefore, we must do things to keep ourselves meaningfully busy. Making a routine and sticking to it is one way to ensure that we stay calm.
Is there a fixed time for me to step out?
One should not be stepping out at all. It is only in case of an emergency or to buy daily essentials that one should leave their homes. Even in such situations, not more than two persons are being allowed to step out together.
Please make a note that private vehicles shall be permitted to ply only for the purpose of procuring essential commodities and for health services.
When I step out, should I wear a mask?
Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. In such a scenario, it is anyway not advisable for you to step out.
Do remember that disposable facemasks can only be used once.
If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill, then you are wasting a mask. There is a worldwide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely.
Can I go out for a walk, within my apartment complex?
No. Please stay indoors and exercise indoors.
Is there a penalty for violating the lockdown order?
Yes, people who violate lockdown orders can be punished under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC):
Sec 269 – Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease. Punishment: Imprisonment up to six months, or fine, or both.
Sec 270 – Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease. Punishment: Imprisonment up to two years, or fine, or both.
Section 188 – Disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant. Punishment: Imprisonment up to six months, or fine of Rs 1000, or both.
Other than this, any person who is found to violate provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 under Sections 51 to 60 is also liable to be punished accordingly.
Sec 51 – Punishment for obstruction. Imprisonment of a term that can extend to one year or fine or both.
Sec 52 – Punishment for false claim. Imprisonment which may extend to two years and fine.
Sec 53 – Punishment for misappropriation of money or material. Imprisonment which may extend to two years and fine.
Sec 54 – Punishment for false warning. Imprisonment up to one year or fine.
Sec 55 – Punishment for offences by departments of the government.
Sec 56 – Punishment for failure of officer on duty. Imprisonment up to one year or fine.
Sec 57 – Penalty for contravention of any order regarding requisitioning. Imprisonment up to one year or fine or both.
We urge you to exercise caution, stay safe and stay indoors!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)