Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Construction permitted under lockdown from 20 April to ‘Mitigate Hardships’

The directives released by the home ministry one day after the extension of the lockdown to May 3 by PM Narendra Modi also approved exceptions for the e-commerce and IT sector.

Activities such as agriculture, e-commerce, manufacturing, and IT services will be approved after 20 April as the central government issued fresh guidelines on Wednesday for the nationwide lockdown with a further relaxation to “mitigate public hardships.”

The government says it would also require the construction of roads and buildings in rural communities and the manufacture of IT equipment to slow the spread of coronavirus to minimize the suffering of millions during a prolonged lockdown.

States will now be responsible for making sure that all protocols of security and social distance are in effect, the guidelines of the home ministry claim.

While air, rail, and interstate travel remain restricted, the government allowed agricultural, healthcare services and industries working in rural areas to operate, MHA said in the guidelines.

As per the guidelines provided by the MHA, “From 20 April approved activities include agricultural, horticultural, fishing, agri-product procurement, ‘mandis.’ Farm machinery shops, their spare parts, supply chain, repairs, machinery-related ‘Custom Hiring Centers’ will also remain open.”

Pharmaceutical processing units, medical equipment, development of medical facilities to remain available. Meanwhile, the manufacturing industry of milk, poultry, milk products, and live-stock agriculture and tea, coffee and rubber would restart.

For manufacturing units, another major relief comes as the sector contributes nearly 17 per cent to India’s GDP and employs around 12 per cent of the country’s workforce.

The government also permitted electricians, plumbers, IT repairs, carpenters and engine mechanics to provide services. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the govt made it compulsory to wear masks in public places across the country.

All financial, political, sports, religious places, places of worship, religious activities,  will, however, be closed to the public until May 3. Even educational institutions, centers for coaching, domestic, international air travel and train services will remain halted until May 3.

The exemptions do not extend to hotspots — places with a large number of cases of COVID-19, which display a significant rise in infection.

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