India today announced an extension to the ongoing 40-day nationwide lockdown for two more weeks from May 4 onwards due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"After a comprehensive review and in view of the lockdown measures having led to significant gains in the Covid-19 situation in the country, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India (GoI), issued an order under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 today to further extend the lockdown for a further period of two weeks beyond May 4, 2020," an official statement said.
The announcement of the lockdown extension -- the second since it was first imposed from March 25 and extended again from April 14 -- came on a day when India reported the highest single-day increase in the number of Covid-19 deaths, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
Seventy-seven fatalities have been reported in the last 24 hours in India, taking the country's death toll from Covid-19 to 1,152, according to health ministry data.
The total number of coronavirus cases in India today stands at 35,365, of whom 9,065 people have recovered, the health ministry said in its latest update this evening.
Meanwhile, the home ministry also announced new guidelines to regulate different activities during the lockdown period, under which all goods-laden vehicles are to be permitted and no state or federally-ruled territory would stop the movement of cargo for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries.
Trade along the Petrapole-Benapole Integrated Check-post at the India-Bangladesh border resumed yesterday with trans-shipment of goods after a long break.
The new home ministry guidelines, based on the risk profiling of the country's districts into red (hotspot), green and orange zones, have permitted considerable relaxations in the districts falling in green and orange Zones.
The most sensitive areas of the country falling within the red and orange zones are designated as containment zones where there is significant risk of spread of the infection.
India's capital New Delhi, financial capital Mumbai and IT hub are among the key cities, all marked red zones, will stay under strict lockdown.
The new guidelines say that "for the well-being and safety" of people, no movement will be allowed between 7:00pm and 7:00am except for essential reasons. Those above 65, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children aged less than 10 years will stay at home, unless it is necessary.
Travel by air, rail, metro and inter-state movement by road will remain suspended.
Schools, colleges, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, malls, shopping centres, gyms and sports complexes will also stay shut. Big gatherings -- social, political, cultural and religious -- will also not resume for now.
In red zones, cars will be allowed to carry two persons other than the driver while two-wheelers with a single rider will be allowed. Single shops can open in urban areas, whether for essential or non-essential goods, while e-Commerce will be allowed for essential goods.
Private offices can operate with up to 33 percent manpower at workplace while the rest working from home.
Banks, public utilities like power, water, sanitation, waste management, telecommunications and internet will remain open. Courier and postal services will be also allowed to operate.
Media, IT and IT-enabled services, data and call centres, cold storage and warehousing services, private security, plumbers and electricians will be allowed but not barbers.
Shops selling liquor, paan, gutka and tobacco will be allowed in green and orange zones if the states want, but they will have to ensure six feet distance and not more than five people at a time.
In the green zones, public buses can operate only with half the seating capacity.