The first case of Covid-19 in India was reported on 30 January 2020, in Kerala’s Thrissur district. The first Covid related death was confirmed on 12 March 2020. As the novel Coronavirus slowly spread its claws across the country, India had begun to airlift its citizens from countries that were far worse affected. Soon enough, India suspended non-essential traveller visas for foreign passport holders and passenger land border crossing as well as passenger air travel was suspended until further notice. On 19 March, PM Narendra Modi addressed the nation and proposed a one-day nationwide lockdown: Janta Curfew.
Janta Curfew and the Total Lockdown
On 22 March, 2020 the citizens and residents of India followed PM Modi’s directive and observed a 14 hour long curfew that was orchestrated not only to combat the spread of Coronavirus but also to assess the country’s ability to effectively fight and curb the pandemic. The curfew was followed by PM Modi’s second address to the nation on 24 March, during which a 3 week long total nationwide lockdown was announced, to be effective from midnight on 25 March, 2020.
Extension of Lockdown
As the 3 weeks long lockdown was coming to a close, PM Modi addressed the nation again on 14 April. Following a meeting with all Chief Ministers to discuss a strategy post 21 day lockdown, PM Modi agreed that there was a consensus amongst states and the lockdown was officially extended for another 2 weeks – until 3 May.
Lockdown 2.0 (15 April – 3 May)
The extension of lockdown also introduced conditional relaxations for regions where the spread of the virus was either minimal or brought under control. During this phase, areas were classified as Red Zone (infection hotspots), Orange Zone (presence of some infection) and Green Zone (clear of infection). Relaxations announced included agricultural businesses such as dairy, aquaculture and plantations as well as those selling farming supplies. Soon after, small retail stores were allowed to re-operate with only 50% staff and social distancing protocols.
Lockdown 3.0 (4 May – 17 May)
The Ministry of Home Affairs, on 1 May, declared a further 2 weeks extension to the lockdown with zone wise relaxations and restrictions. Red Zones were to remain in total lockdown, Orange Zones would allow private vehicles but no public transport and Green Zones were permitted the freedom of movement but with 50% capacity for public transport.
Lockdown 4.0 (18 May – 31 May)
The fourth phase of lockdown was announced on 17 May, by the MHA and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), with additional relaxations.State governments received a larger say in the classification of areas into zones as well as the authority to further demarcate the red zones into containment and buffer zones.
A lot of national restrictions remained in force, such as prohibition of majority passenger air/train travel as well as closure of educational institutions, hospitality services, places of worship and places of large gatherings such as cinemas, malls, gyms etc.
Lockdown 5.0 – What’s in store for India next
Just as India is bracing to get respite from lockdown, the MHA has announced that lockdown restrictions will continue till 30 June, particularly in the containment zones.
However, outside of the containment zones, all economic activities will be relaxed in a phased manner, as listed under the Unlock 1 National Directives released by the MHA.