On 24 March 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs vide its order no. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) issued guidelines to be followed by ministries/departments of the Government of India, State/ Union Territory Governments and Authorities, containing measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
These guidelines were issued by the National Executive Committee under the directions of the National Disaster Management Authority (order No. 1-29/2020-PP(Pt. II) dated 24 March 2020) and in exercise of its powers conferred under Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The Guidelines, inter alia, provide for the following containment measures which shall remain applicable for a period of 21 days with effect from 25 March 2020:
- All offices of the Government of India, its autonomous/subordinate offices and public corporations shall remain closed except for defence, central armed police forces, public utilities (including petroleum, LPG, CNG, PNG), disaster management, power generation and transmission units, post offices, National Informatics Centre, Early Warning Agencies etc. Certain offices, like that of the treasury, MCA-21 registry, GSTN, RBI etc., shall function with bare minimum staff.
- The offices of the State/Union Territory Governments, their autonomous bodies and corporations etc. shall remain closed except for police, home guard, civil defence, fire and emergency services, disaster management, prisons, district administration and treasury, electricity, water, sanitation and municipal bodies (relating to essential services like water supply and sanitation only), Mandis operated by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee or as notified by the state government, etc.
- All hospitals and related medical establishments including dispensaries, chemist, medical equipment shops, laboratories, clinics, nursing homes, ambulance, veterinary hospitals, pharmacies and pharmaceutical research labs etc. shall remain functional. Further, transportation of medical personnel, nurses, other hospital support services etc. shall be permitted.
- All commercial and private establishments to be closed other than shops dealing in food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, fertilizers, seeds, pesticides etc.; bank, ATMs, insurance offices; print and electronic media; telecommunication, internet services, broadcasting and cable services; delivery of essential goods through e-commerce; petrol pumps, LPG, petroleum and gas retail and storage outlets; power generation and transmission units; private security services; farming operations by farmers and farm workers in the field, etc.
- All industrial establishments shall remain closed; other than those engaged in the manufacturing of essential goods, including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw materials and intermediates; those production units which require continuous process and have obtained the approval from the state government; coal and mineral production, transportation, supply of explosives etc.; manufacturing units of packaging materials for food items, drugs, pharmaceuticals and medical devices and manufacturing and packaging units for fertilizers, pesticides and seeds.
- All transport services, other than for the transport of essential commodities or of fire or law and order or emergency services or for cargo movement, relief and evacuation and their related operational organisations, inter-state movement of goods/cargo for inland and exports, transit arrangements for foreign nationals in India according to the specified standard operating procedure, etc., shall remain suspended.
- All educational, training, research, coaching institutions etc. to remain closed.
- All places of worship shall remain closed.
(Please refer to the Guidelines, the first Addendum to the Guidelines (dated 25 March 2020), the second Addendum to the Guidelines (dated 27 March 2020), the third Addendum to the Guidelines (dated 02 April 2020), the fourth Addendum to the Guidelines (dated 03 April 2020) and the fifth Addendum to the Guidelines (dated 10 April 2020) for the complete list of containment measures and exceptions)
Wherever any exception has been provided to the containment measures, the organisation/ employer shall ensure necessary precautions, including social distancing measures, as advised by the Health Department.
Any violation of the containment measures specified in the Guidelines shall be liable to action under Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.