Industries in rural areas to reopen on April 20

#GS3 #PandemicManagement

  • The States will decide the additional public activities to be allowed from April 20. They will have to be based on strict compliance with the existing guidelines on lockdown measures.
  • The relaxations will be implemented at the discretion of the State and district authorities in areas that have not been identified as infection hotspots or containment zones.
  • The standard operating procedure (SOP) for factories and office establishments from April 20 says medical insurance is mandatory for workers.

Workplace curbs

  • Workplaces should have a gap of one hour between shifts, and lunch breaks should be staggered to ensure social distancing.
  • All organisations should sanitise workplaces. Thermal screening of all those entering and leaving the work premises is mandatory, states the SOP. 
  • Work units should encourage the use of staircases, stagger work hours to ensure social distancing and ban the entry of non-essential visitors.
  • Travel by air, rail, metro, public buses, taxis, cab aggregators will remain suspended. Cinema halls, malls will remain shut. 
  • All social /religious gathering are prohibited till May 3 and all industrial and commercial units, unless exempted, will remain shut.
  • The revised guidelines permit small service providers, such as electricians, plumbers, IT repair, motor mechanics and carpenters, to operate.
  • Supply chain of essential goods, grocery stores, vegetable, fruit carts and e-commerce companies will be allowed to operate without time restrictions.
  • In addition to pharmaceuticals and other essential sectors such as agriculture, mining and fertilizers, which are already exempted from the lockdown, several new industries will be permitted to function from April 20.
  • IT and IT enabled services will be allowed to operate at 50% strength, while IT hardware manufacturing has been added to the list of exemptions. E-commerce companies, oil and gas exploration and refineries, food processing in rural areas and jute industries will be allowed to work.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which provides 100 days of minimum wage work to rural households, is also being allowed, so long as social distancing and the use of masks are strictly enforced.

Goods traffic allowed

  • Transport of goods has been a major hurdle over the last two weeks. The new guidelines make it clear that all goods traffic will be allowed to ply, with two drivers and one helper allowed a truck. Truck repair shops and dhabas on highways will be allowed to function. E-commerce and courier services can be restarted.

There will also be a phased return to office of the government’s own workforce, with the new guidelines calling for 100% attendance from officers above the Deputy Secretary level, with junior staff attendance of 33%.

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