Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus that has claimed nine lives and infected over five hundred in India.
Though this is an unprecedented move in India, it's not the only country that has taken this harsh measure to contain the spread of the virus that has killed nearly 17,000 people globally so far and infected over 3.8 lakh.
What is a lockdown?
A lockdown is essentially an emergency protocol aimed to restrict the movement of people from a given area - it can be either partial or full.
"A full lockdown will mean you must stay where you are and not exit or enter a building or the given area," says Economic Times.
What does it mean for India?
Earlier, there was lockdown in parts of India till 31 March, but Modi on Tuesday extended it for another two weeks, that is till 14 April, and to the entire country, starting from Tuesday midnight.
"Whatever may happen, do not step out of your homes," Modi exhorted in his speech on Tuesday, asking people to stay at home.
Difference between lockdown and curfew
Though the prime minister termed the lockdown a "kind of curfew", a lockdown, in fact, is very different from a curfew.
Firstly, a curfew is a response to a law and order situation, whereas, the current lockdown is a response to a health emergency.
Secondly, the goal of a lockdown is to restrict the movement of people from one area to another area, and as seen in most cases, people will be allowed to step out and go to shops to buy essential items like milk, grocery, vegetables, medicines, etc. Whereas, in times of curfew, no person is allowed on the road.
Third, a curfew is for a smaller period of time and is lifted whenever the authorities have the confidence that the law and order situation has improved. This lockdown, on the other hand, will end only after the stated period of time is over. Not before that.
Why is this lockdown important?
Like the other 136 countries, India has also been affected by the novel coronavirus. However, according to authorities, the country is still at stage two of the infection. Once it reaches stage three, which is when community transmission, starts to take place, it will be very difficult to contain the spread of the virus.
So far social distancing has emerged as one of the best ways to contain the spread of the virus. A lockdown of this scale is aimed to restrict the people from going outside and catching the infection from other infected people.
As the prime minister said, "If we are not able to manage the upcoming 21 days (of nationwide complete lockdown), we will be pushed back 21 years. Today, India is at the stage where our actions today will decide to what extent we can bring down the impact of this disaster. This is the time to strengthen our resolve again and again."
Modi also exhorted people to "stay wherever they are in the country".
Would you face punishment for violating lockdown?
As per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on the 21-day lockdown, people violating it can face punishment that may include a fine from Rs 200 to Rs 1,000 or imprisonment from one month to two years or both, depending on the severity of disobedience.
Disaster Management Act: According to ANI, as per Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2015, those violating the lockdown can be punished for specific offences such as obstructing a govt official and govt employees, refusing to comply with an order, making false claims, spreading false alarm and misappropriation of money or materials meant for disaster management.
People can be punished with a jail of one year to two years with or without a fine depending on the offence committed. The sections apply to individuals as well as government departments and companies.
Section 188 of the IPC: Those who are caught disobeying a public servant may face penalties or imprisonment depending on the impact of the offence. The punishment ranges from simple imprisonment for a month with a fine of Rs two hundred for simply disobeying an order or causing harm or annoyance to a public servant. But if the act of disobeying the order causes or tends to cause harm to human life, health or safety, or tends to cause a riot or affray, then the person may be imprisoned up to six months or with a fine up to Rs one thousand or both.
It's important to note that knowingly disobeying the order with or without cause harm is sufficient to attract punishment under Section 188.
What has been exempted from the lockdown
As part of the lockdown, educational institutes, places of worship and commercial and private establishments will remain shut, with the following exceptions:
1) Shops, including ration shops (under PDS), dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, animal fodder. However, district authorities may encourage and facilitate home delivery to minimise the movement of individuals outside their homes.
3) Print and electronic media.
4) Telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services. IT and IT-enabled services only (for essential services) and as fas as possible to work from home.
5) Delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment through e-commerce.
6) Petrol pumps, LPG, petroleum and gas retail, and storage outlets.
7) Power generation, transmission, and distribution units and services.
8) Capital and debt market services as notified by the securities and exchange board of India.
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Updated Date: Mar 25, 2020 08:19:51 IST