New Delhi has joined several other states that will be under lockdown until March 31, as part of efforts to keep citizens indoors to prevent the spread of coronavirus and giving authorities powers to punish violators. At least 75 districts across the country where cases of coronavirus have been detected have been put under stringent lockdown.
Here is what you should know about the lockdown orders and how you should interpret them.Why the lockdown?
India has reported 341 cases of coronavirus, with seven deaths, the government said on Sunday. The number of cases mirror rates during the early stages of the outbreak in other countries, which then went on to see very rapid growth, according to experts.
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Medical experts said the severe shortage of testing facilities could be masking the true extent of cases in India. India has a population of more than 1.3 billion people and the government, like several of its counterparts around the globe, began to act against the virus much after the it spread across borders. Screenings at airports and self-isolation were introduced well after the virus reared its head in India.
Testing has since been expanded to private laboratories and will now include asymptomatic people who have had contact with confirmed cases. But the number of coronavirus cases in India has doubled in the past 48 hours. A lockdown was therefore inevitable.Also read:
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A lockdown simply means a security measure taken during an emergency to prevent people from leaving or entering a building or area. If the coronavirus is not an emergency, what is?
In other words, people must avoid movements outside their immediate surrounding areas except for work that is deemed very essential, health care or activities of absolute necessity such as grocery shopping or purchasing medicines.Can you step out?
The central government has asked states to strictly enforce the slowdown. There will strict legal action against violators. Police in some parts of the country like Mumbai are tracking if people who returned from overseas are staying at home.
So stepping out depends on what for. You could go for a jog in the nearby park in the early hours or take the dog out to the park. These are individual acts, so should not get you into trouble. Don’t stay out for too long.
But what about planning a play date? Or a cricket match? Out of the question.
What if you want to go to the bank? Banks are open only for the most essential services. That means you can visit bank branches only for:
- Cash deposits and withdrawals
- Clearing of cheques
- Government transactions
All said and done, if we want to stop this virus, we must stay at home.
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Groceries, pharmacies, post offices, and banks are open. So are hospitals and fuel stations. All other commercial establishments, workshops, offices, godowns and weekly bazaars, retail stores and services are closed, as are restaurants, cafes and pubs. There is little wiggle room for many businesses.What about factories and public transport?
A raft of factories and industrial parks has temporarily shut down or found ways to minimise contact. Indian Railways, which carries more than 25 million commuters a day, cancelled all passenger train services until March 31. Inter-state buses too have been stopped. Uber and Ola have announced suspension of services. Airports are open but airlines have significantly scaled back operations. Some states like Delhi have sealed borders with neighbouring states.