The fourth phase of the inception of economy after coronavirus lockdown will commence from September 1. The Ministry of Home Affairs released a set of guidelines for ‘Unlock 4’ to be followed till September 30. The guidelines indicate that there would be leeway given to open up more activities in areas outside the containment zones and the states and union territories would require to deliberate and consult with the Central government before imposing local lockdowns outside the containment zones. However, the lockdown in containment zones would continue till September 30.
There would be no restrictions imposed on inter and intra-state movement of persons and goods, and no separate permission, approval or e-permit shall be required for such movements. But, schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions will remain closed till September 30. The Metro rail services, which were halted since March 22, will be allowed to resume with effect from 7th September in a graded manner. Passengers will not be permitted to use tokens, so the contactless ticketing system will be assembled. But, the local trains in Mumbai will not resume in this phase.
The guideline states that even though schools and colleges will remain closed till September 30, states and union territories may permit up to 50% of staff to be called to the school for online teaching and tele-counselling related work. Students of classes 9 to 12 may be allowed to visit their schools to seek guidance from their teachers, voluntarily and written consent of their parents/guardians. However, this will only be authorised for areas outside the containment zones with effect from September 21. The Higher Education Institutions only for research scholars (Ph.D.) and postgraduate students of technical and professional programmes requiring laboratory/ experimental works will be allowed by the Department of Higher Education (DHE) in consultation with MHA, based on the assessment of the situation, and keeping in view incidence of COVID-19 in the States/ UTs.
Public gatherings which include social, academic, sports, entertainment, political, cultural and religious, will be permitted from September 21 with a ceiling of 100 persons. But, it is mandatory to wear face masks, practice social distancing and use thermal scanners in such gatherings. International air travel is not permitted unless expressly stated by the MHA. With India reporting 76,472 cases in the last 24 hours and the total number of coronavirus infections in the country crossing the 34 lakh mark, the MHA has recommended that the vulnerable persons, including those above 65 and with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, to stay at home. The directives also call for workplaces to follow Work From Home as far as possible.