The Centre on Wednesday came out with a detailed lockdown guideline, just a day after PM Modi announced an extension till May 3.

In its detailed guideline, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said it will allow the resumption of certain economic activities in select sectors to help people who have been suffering financially due to the lockdown.

But, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday, the limited exemptions will be operationalised by state governments, Union Territories and district governments on the basis of “strict compliance” to existing guidelines.

It is also worth noting that these guidelines do not apply to containment zones or hotspots, where stricter lockdown measures will apply. Therefore, no resumption of businesses activities, except select essential services, will be allowed in hotspots.

Having said that, here are some economic activities that have been allowed by the government, out of which some are expected to only resume after April 20.

Agriculture

The Centre’s guideline could be a fresh breather for India’s agriculture sector, who have been struggling amid the 21-day lockdown.

As PM Modi announced an extension of the lockdown till May 3, the Centre’s guideline said all agriculture and horticultural activities will remain fully operational in all areas except hotspots.

Those engaged in farming activity, agencies engaged in procurement of agri-products and Mandis operated by APMC will also be allowed. Shops selling agricultural machinery and spare parts will also be allowed to operate. Manufacturing, distribution and retail of fertilisers, pesticides and seeds have also been allowed.

Similar guidelines have been issued with respect to Fisheries, Hatcheries, Plantations and animal husbandry.

Finance

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and central bank-regulated financial markets and entities like NPCI, CCIL, payment system operators and standalone primary dealers will be allowed to operate.

Bank branches and ATMs, IT vendors for banking operations, banking correspondents, ATM-operating cash management agencies will remain open during the entire period of lockdown.

Sebi, capital markets and debt markets will also remain functional, while IRDAI and other insurance firms will also remain open.

Some commercial and private establishments

Some select commercial and private establishments will also be allowed to operate as the lockdown continues. Print and electronic media including broadcasting, DTH and cable services included.

IT and IT-enabled services with total strength at offices limited to 50 per cent. Government data and call centres to remain functional as well.

E-commerce firms and vehicles used by them to deliver essential products will be allowed.

Services provided by self-employed persons including electricians, plumbers, motor mechanics and carpenters will continue,

Industries

A number of industries operating in rural areas will be allowed to resume activity after April 20 if the area is not a Covid-19 hotspot.

Manufacturing and other industrial establishments with access control in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Export Oriented Units (EOUs) will be allowed to operate along with industrial townships and estates.

Manufacturing units of essential goods including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices will be allowed. Food processing industries in rural areas will also be allowed.

The Centre has also allowed the manufacturing of IT hardware apart from coal production and other mining activities.

Construction activities

The government also announced that some contraction activity will be allowed to resume. Construction of roads, irrigation projects, buildings and all kinds of industrial projects, including MSMEs, in rural areas, will be allowed after a review of the situation.

Construction of renewable energy projects has also been allowed by the government. The is a major development as it would help daily wage labourers get back to work sooner.

While the government has tried its best to restart some economic activity across sectors, there are several key industries that have come to a standstill due to the virus outbreak. Some affected MSMEs have requested the government to financially support them in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

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