Unlockdown 4.0: MHA Guidelines

Lockdown measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 has been in force in the country since 24 March 2020.

On 30 May 2020, pursuant to the direction of the National Disaster Management Authority under Section 6(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an order enumerating the guidelines for phased re-opening of activities which were prohibited during the lockdown in areas outside the designated containment zones, as Unlockdown 1. This order was to remain in force up to 30 June 2020.

On 29 June 2020, with a view to re-open more activities in the country, in a calibrated manner, in areas outside containment zones, the MHA issued detailed guidelines on Unlockdown 2. The order had also extended the lockdown in containment zones up to 31 July 2020.

On 29 July 2020, MHA had issued guidelines on Unlock 3 which came into effect on 1 August 2020 for further extension of the process of phased re-opening. However, the order also stipulated for strict adherence to lockdown in containment zones up to 31 August 2020.

To provide further relaxations to the prohibited activities MHA issued detailed guidelines for Unlockdown 4 on 29 August 2020 as below:

  1. Activities permitted during Unlock 4 outside the Containment Zones:

All activities except the following are permitted:

(i) Schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions to continue to remain closed for students and regular class activity up to 30 September 2020. However, the following are permitted:

  1. Online/ Distance learning;
  1. 50% of teaching and non-teaching staff may be permitted to be called to the schools at a time for online teaching/tele-counseling and related work, in areas outside Containment Zones with effect from 21 September 2020 for which SOP will be issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFM).
  1. Students of class 9 to 12 may be permitted to visit schools outside Containment Zones only, on voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers. This is subject to the written consent from parents/ guardians, with effect from 21 September 2020 for which SOP will be issued by the MoHFW.
  1. Skill or Entrepreneurship training will be permitted in National Training Institutes, Industrial Training Institutes, Short term training centres registered with National Skill Development Corporation or State Skill Development Missions or other Ministries of the Government of India or State Governments.

National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development, Indian Institue of Entrepreneurship and their training providers will also be permitted.

This will be only with effect from 21 September 2020 for which SOP will be issued by the MoHFW.

  1. Higher Education Institutions only for research scholars (Ph.D.) and post-graduate students of technical and professional programmes requiring laboratory/ experimental works. 

(ii) Metro rail will be allowed to operate with effect from 7 September 2020 in a graded manner, by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs/ Ministry of Railways in consultation with MHA. SOP to be issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

(iii) Social/ academic/ sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious/ political functions and other congregations with a ceiling of 100 persons will be permitted from 21 September 2020 with mandatory wearing face masks, social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer. 

However, marriage related gatherings with number of guests not exceeding 50 and funeral/ last rites related gatherings with number of persons not exceeding 20 will continue to be allowed up to 20 September 2020, after which the ceiling of 100 persons will apply. 

(iv) Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres and similar places will remain closed. However, open air theatres will be permitted to open with effect from 21 September 2020.

(v) International air travel of passengers, except as permitted by MHA.

  1. Lockdown limited to Containment Zones:

Lockdown to remain in force in Containment Zones up to 30 September 2020.

District Authorities to demarcate the Containment Zones, on due consideration of the guidelines issued 

by the MoHFW.

Containment Zones to be notified on the websites of respective District Collectors and by the States/ 

UTs and information will be shared by MoHFW.

  1. National Directives for COVID-19 Management:

The MHA order in its Annexure I has also issued revised directives to be followed throughout the 


  1. Compulsory wearing of face cover in public places and work places;
  2. Maintenance of minimum distance of 6 feet in public places;
  3. Shops to ensure physical distancing among customers;
  4. Spitting in public places is punishable with fine as prescribed by the local authorities;
  5. Workplace directives:

(i) Work from home to be practised to the extent possible;

(ii) Staggering of work/ business hours to be followed in workplaces, shops, offices, markets, industrial and commercial establishments;

(iii) Provision of thermal screening, sanitizer, hand wash to be made at all entry and exit points and common areas;

(iv) Frequent sanitization of all points which come into human contact to be ensured;

(v) Practising of social distancing by workers is to be ensured by all persons in charge of workplaces.

  1. States/ UT Governments are prohibited from imposing any local lockdown outside containment

zones without prior consultation of the Central Government.

  1. Inter-State and Intra-State movement:

No restriction has been placed on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods including

those for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/

approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

  1. Movement of persons with SOPs:

The following to continue to be regulated by the respective SOPs issued:

  1. Movement by passenger trains;
  2. Domestic air travel;
  3. Movement of Vande Bharat and Air Transport flights;
  4. Sign-on and sign-off of India seafarers.
  1. Protection of Vulnerable persons:

Persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age

of 10 years are advised to stay at home, except for essential and health purposes.

The order further reiterated the use and purpose of the Aarogya Setu application.