THE government has ordered ‘a complete lockdown’ for eight days, coming into force in the morning on April 14, which will run till midnight past April 21. This round of lockdown followed a prelude of ‘a partial lockdown’ for a week that began on April 5 but was later extended by two more days to cover April 12–13. The partial lockdown that just ended was a set of restrictions on public movement and business and a ban on all modes of public transports. The restrictions were, however, later relaxed to allow public transports to run to half the passenger capacity with adherence to health protocols in city corporation areas for 12 hours from 6:00am beginning on April 7 and then to allow shops and shopping malls to remain open for eight hours from 9:00am beginning on April 9. All this was ordered as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 infection, which has marked a sharp increase in both cases and death since early March, but there has hardly been any noticeable adherence to the directives. Now the 11 directives ordered for the complete lockdown also have left scope for consideration, especially in cases of some directives that stand in conflict with the reality.
The government has ordered the closure of all government, semi-government, autonomous and non-government offices and financial institutions and asked public servants not to leave stations. But factories and industries will remain open with adherence to health protocols under own management to ferry workers. Are millions of people who work in factories and industries immune to COVID-19? If they are, why are not people working with government, semi-government, autonomous and non-government offices immune too? All the workers travelling between home and factories and industries should come to count as public movement. The directive orders the closure of financial institutions. People will need money to survive for the eight days of lockdown, which may be further extended. Banks having remained open only for limited hours since the beginning of the partial lockdown, people may face trouble if all banks remain closed. People running their business, which in cases of online transaction is expected to mark an increase in the lockdown period, should not be encouraged to keep their money at home. There should have, therefore, been clear-cut instructions for banks to remain open even for limited hours. The Directorate General of Health Services has been empowered to ask the district and the police administration to take steps for the enforcement of the directives. An instruction like this could create problems on the ground in the absence of clear-cut directives.
All this might be a repeat of the general holiday that the government ordered beginning on March 26, 2020 to head off the spread of COVID-19 infection unless the government puts in place other measures such as aid in food and cash, especially for the poor, low- and, even, fixed-income people. The government in 2020 could not sustain the general holiday beyond May 30 as measures essential to enforce the general holiday were inadequate. The government must, therefore, think about all this and make corrections that seem pressing if it means to stave off COVID-19 spread by way of lockdown.
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