The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak continues to spread like wildfire across India. As more than 80 cities in several states across the country have already declared either a complete or a partial lockdown starting tomorrow, some Frequently Asked Questions have popped up as citizens wonder what exactly is to be done during these times. With India, and by extension the world, facing what is arguably the worst health crisis in recent history, here’s your handy guide to riding the coronavirus lockdown.
We try to address a few of the FAQs that come to mind while referring to the lockdown that has been called amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
1. What happens during a lockdown?
Firstly, the state government issues some important guidelines to deal with any emergency situation. Our advice is to follow that guide at all times. In addition, it is to be noted that a term like a ‘lockdown’ is not a government policy, per se, but it is intended that citizens comply with government orders in the case of an emergency
Under the Epidemic Disease Act 1897, the government issues the necessary guidelines to deal with the epidemic outbreak in question. Citizens are expected to obey government advice, as the negligence of one can endanger the lives of many. During a lockdown, people are asked to avoid non-essential travel. They should not leave their residences unless absolutely necessary.
All offices, companies, shops, malls, cafes, and community centers remain closed in the districts where the lockdown has been enforced.
No more than four people can gather at once. All kinds of public programmes and gatherings are banned in a city where a lockdown has been enforced.
All government transports, including buses, sub-urban trains, and metro service, usually stop operating.
2. What essential services will be available to the public?
1. Milk shops will remain open but take care not to gather together.
2. Ration shops will remain open but again, citizens are urged to maintain a safe distance. Those who have rations in their house should not go to the ration shop unnecessarily. In some cases, the government arranges for the allocated ration to directly reach the citizens’ residences in order to minimize the chances of infection.
3. The supply of fruits and vegetables will continue.
4. Food Processing Unit remains open.
5. Petrol pumps remain open but may also close, depending on the local administration. Some places may be identified where there is a possibility of overcrowding.
6. Milk and dairy plants remain open.
7. Private and government hospitals remain open 24×7.
8. Medical stores may or may not remain open, depending on the locality.
9. Companies that make medical and health equipment and medicine remain open.
10. Communication services run smoothly.
11. Telecom companies can keep their features open.
12. Banks and ATMs may remain open.
13. Work from Home is encouraged.
14. Vehicles can run to transport essential services’ and items
15. The government can also deliver any necessary material to the citizen’s house
16. Ambulance system is enhanced and is a top priority during these times
3. Who can get around during a lockdown?
2. Doctors, nurses, and medical professionals
4. Administrative Officers
5. Media persons and journalists
6. People supplying essential materials of any kind
4. What action can be taken if one violates the guidelines of the administration?
1. The district officer can take action under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with disobedience to the order of a public servant. Under Section 188 of Indian Penal Code when an offense of disobedience of an order duly promulgated by a public servant has been committed which causes obstruction, annoyance or injury to the legal authority passing the order, then the offender will be punished with simple imprisonment for one month or fine up to 200 rupees. However, if any disobedience of the order causes the risk to human life or leads to a riot or affray the person will be punished with imprisonment of 6 months or with a fine up to 1000 rupees.
2. If a person hides his ‘coronavirus disease (COVID-19) positive’ information, he may also have an FIR lodged against him (like what was done against Kanika Kapoor). Action may also be taken under Sections 269 and 270 of the IPC, which deal with negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life. According to Section 269 of the IPC, whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.