A lockdown has been ordered in five cities of Uttar Pradesh including Prayagraj, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur Nagar and Gorakhpur, following the directions issued by the Allahabad High Court on April 19. The restrictions will remain in force till April 26.
The Allahabad HC was hearing a public interest litigation over the COVID-19 situation in the state. The bench ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to close down all shops and establishments barring those involved in essential services for at least a week.
"All establishments be it government or private, except financial institutions and financial departments, medical and health services, industrial and scientific establishments, essential services including municipal functions, and public transport, shall remain closed till 26th April, 2021," the court said.
All shopping complexes and malls would also remain closed till the above date.
All grocery shops and other commercial shops excluding medical shops, with more than three workers shall also remain closed, the bench headed by Justice Siddhartha Varma and Justice Ajit Kumar noted.
All hotels, restaurants and even the "small eating points on thelas" shall remain closed, the HC further ordered.
All institutions like educational institutions and other institutions relating to other disciplines and activities be it government, semi government or private shall remain closed including for their teachers and instructors and other staff till the lockdown orders remain in force.
No social functions and gatherings including marriage functions shall be permitted till April 26. However, in case of already fixed marriages a necessary further permission would have to be taken from the District Magistrate of the concerned district, the court said.
"Gatherings would be limited to 25 persons and the district magistrate concerned shall take decision after giving due consideration to the prevailing situation of the impact of Covid 19 including notification of containment zones in the area where such marriage has to take place," the order stated.
All religious activities in public of any kind is also directed to remain suspended. "All religious establishments of any kind are directed to remain closed till 26th April," the court added.
"All hawkers including fruits and vegetable vendors, milk vendors and bread vendors, shall go off the road by 11 AM every day till 26th April," it further stated.
Containment zones shall be notified every day in two leading Hindi and English newspapers having wide circulation in the districts of Prayagraj, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur Nagar/ Dehat and Gorakhpur, the court directed the government.
"All public movements on roads would remain restricted completely, subject to above directions. Movements would be only allowed in case of medical help and emergencies," it clarified.
In addition to the above directions, the High Court also directed the state government to "go robust for implementing the current vaccination programme".
Uttar Pradesh is one of the states hit by the second wave of pandemic. The state, as per the last update issued by the health department on April 18, reported 30,596 infections and 129 deaths in the preceding 24-hour period. The tally of active cases has surged to 1,91,457, and the weekly positivity rate was recorded as 10.60 percent.
The Allahabad HC, while issuing the lockdown orders, stated that "those in the helm of affairs of governance are to be blamed for the present chaotic health problems".
"In any civilised society if public health system is not able to meet the challenges and people die for want of proper medication, it means there has been no proper development," it said.
"If people die of pandemic in a large number due to paucity of sufficient medical aid it would be the governments to blame which failed to counter the pandemic even after one long year of experience and learning," the court added.
The HC's lockdown order for five major UP cities came hours after the Yogi Adityanath-led government said that a complete lockdown was not necessitated to curb the virus transmission.
"There is no need to impose a complete lockdown. Weekend lockdowns will continue to curb the spread of COVID-19," news agency ANI
had quoted the UP Chief Minister's Office (CMO) as saying, before the HC issued its order.