Centre extends lockdown till May 31; States and UTs are at liberty to delineate Red, Green and Orange zones

THE Central Government on May 17 extended the nationwide lockdown till May 31. Along-with the official order extending the lockdown, the Union Home Ministry (MHA) also issued revised guidelines to be followed by the States and the Union Territories (UTs) to strictly enforce the lockdown measures.

According to the new guidelines, the following activities to remain prohibited throughout the country-

  • all domestic and international air travel of passengers, except for domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance and for security purposes or purposes as permitted by MHA
  • metro rail services;
  • running of schools, colleges, educational and training/coaching institutions;
  • hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services, except for the running of canteens in bus depots, railway stations and airports;
  • places of large public gatherings such as cinemas, shopping malls, gymnasiums entertainment parks, etc.;
  • social, political, cultural and similar gatherings and other large congregations; and, access to religious places/places of worship for the public.

However, online/ distance learning shall be permitted and encouraged; and, restaurants will be allowed to operate kitchens for home delivery of food items.


States to decide various zones


Under the new guidelines, States and UTs have been given liberty to delineate Red, Green and Orange zones taking into consideration the parameters shared by the Health Ministry. The zones, according to the guidelines, can be a district, or a municipal corporation/ municipality or even smaller administrative units such as sub-divisions, etc, as decided by States and UTs.

Further, within the red and orange zones, the local authorities will demarcate containment and buffer zones, after taking into consideration the Health Ministry guidelines.

As per guidelines, within the containment zones, only essential activities shall be allowed. Strict perimeter control shall be maintained, and no movement of persons would be allowed, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining the supply of essential goods and services.  Buffer zones are areas adjoining each containment zone, where new cases are more likely to appear.  In the buffer zones, more caution needs to be exercised.


Opening up of sports activities


Under the new guidelines, sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open only for sports activities. However, spectators will not be allowed in these complexes.

 As per MHA, Inter-State movement of vehicles and buses has also been allowed with mutual consent of the concerned States/ UTs.  The States and UTs can decide the intra-State movement of vehicles and buses.

Night Curfew shall continue to remain in force on the movement of individuals, for all non-essential activities, between 7 pm and 7 am.

As per the guidelines, vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, shall stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.

The guidelines state all other activities will be permitted except those, which are specifically prohibited under these guidelines.

“However, in containment zones, only essential activities shall be allowed, as mentioned earlier. Further, States/ UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain other activities in the various zones, or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary”, the guidelines say.


Use of Aarogya Setu


As per the new guidelines, employers on best effort basis should ensure that all employees having compatible mobile phones install the Aarogya Setu app. Further, District authorities to advise individuals to install the Aarogya Setu application on compatible mobile phones and regularly update their health status on the app.  This will, according to MHA, facilitate timely provision of medical attention to those individuals who are at risk.


Stipulations regarding Shops and Markets


According to guidelines, local authorities should ensure that shops and markets open with staggered timings, so as to ensure social distancing.   All shops shall also have to ensure six feet distance (2 gaz ki doori) among customers and also not allow more than 5 persons at one time.

This is a fourth extension of the lockdown. The first nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24 for a period 21 days. Since then it is extended time to time with prescribing revised and modified guidelines to contain the spread of Covid-19.


Read the Guidelines here:


Read the letter of Health Secretary to States/UTs on rules to be followed while categorizing Zones here:



Also, read: COVID-19 Advisories, Letters, Orders: A ready referencer