Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Extended business, transport, movement restrictions in place across eastern India through at least July 31, with regional variations.
- Alert Begins: 09 Jul 2020 07:07 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal states (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Movement controls, business and transport disruptions; increased security; possible clashes
As of July 9, most eastern India regions are maintaining or extending coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions; limited public buses and all forms of private transport are operational in areas outside of containment zones with COVID-19 clusters. Special intercity trains for stranded passengers and limited domestic flights are also permitted. Travelers from other states or countries will undergo a 14-day quarantine; symptomatic passengers will stay in a medical facility while asymptomatic patients may be quarantined at home or in a government facility, according to local rules. Both essential and nonessential business operations have resumed, including some religious sites, shopping malls, dine-in restaurants, and hotels. Entertainment venues and most public sites remain closed. Urban centers such as Kolkata and Patna have reported no significant decrease in cases, delaying normalization. Current or planned measures include:
- Bihar: Daily 2200-0500 curfew is in place through July 31. Officials are implementing a strict containment strategy in Patna district July 10-16. Entry and exit to Patna will be limited to select transit points and for essential purposes only; officials have banned all public transport and nonessential private transport. Businesses - mainly providing essential services - will function with minimal workforce; authorities are advising residents to stay home and use delivery services to the extent possible. Other areas may face similar restrictions if local cases rise in the coming days. Noncontainment zones across the state are reopening businesses and some public sites such as places of worship; public transport remains limited. Interdistrict and interstate transit does not require prior online permission, though rules may change if local cases rise. Home or institutional quarantine is not necessary for asymptomatic passengers as of July 9.
- Jharkhand: Authorities are enforcing a statewide nightly 2100-0500 curfew through July 31. Only essential and emergency movement of people and vehicles are allowed during curfews; all nonessential businesses must close. Intra- and interstate public transport is suspended; religious sites and hospitality businesses, including dine-in eateries, remain closed. Asymptomatic passengers entering the state may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.
- Odisha: Statewide nightly 2100-0500 and weekend curfews are in place at least through July. Officials are implementing a strict containment strategy in the worst-hit districts of Balasore, Cuttack, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Jharsuguda, Keonjhar, Kendrapara, Khordha, and Mayurbhanj until further notice. Entry and exit to such districts are limited to select transit points and for essential purposes only; officials have banned all public transport and nonessential private transport. Only essential businesses will function; authorities are advising residents to stay home and use delivery services to the extent possible. Other areas may face similar restrictions if local cases rise in the coming days. Other noncontainment zones across the state are reopening businesses, transport, and limited public sites. Asymptomatic passengers may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.
- West Bengal: Statewide nightly 2100-0500 curfew continues through at least July 31. The state is implementing strict restrictions on all nonessential activity in over 1,000 containment zones from 1700 July 9. Officials will ban movement into and out of identified areas - including in the Kolkata metropolitan area, consisting of Howrah, Hooghly, Kolkata, Nadia, North 24 Parganas, and South 24 Parganas districts - except for emergency purposes through July 16. Authorities have also banned all public transport and nonessential private transport. Only essential businesses will function; officials are advising residents to stay home and use delivery services to the extent possible. Other areas may face similar restrictions if local cases rise in the coming days. Noncontainment zones across the state are reopening businesses, transport, and limited public sites. Asymptomatic passengers may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.
Local administration and police will continue to enforce and facilitate control measures. Emergency and utility services remain operational nationwide. While banks and businesses selling essential goods, such as fuel, food, and medicines, remain open in containment zones, officials will almost certainly regulate price, supply, and opening hours. Panic-buying and associated localized shortages of essential goods may occur in some areas. Sporadic clashes are possible if groups attempt to enforce business closures or defy official orders. Police may forcibly disperse unruly crowds. Violators may face legal action. Authorities could modify restrictions at short notice, mainly in major cities.
Nationwide restrictions, including the mandatory use of masks in public, the closure of public spaces, such as educational and entertainment venues, a ban on large gatherings, and suspension of non-repatriation international travel, continue. However, businesses and limited public transport can operate outside containment zones with hygiene and social distancing guidelines. A shortened 2200-0500 nightly curfew will continue nationwide with possible timing extensions by local authorities.
Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Indian government are similar to actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Follow all official instructions; minimize outdoor activity to the extent possible. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm business appointments, deliveries, work, and travel arrangements. Do not check out of accommodation without confirming onward travel. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Ensure access to essential items, plan for queues, and delays at available shopping centers. Carry proper identification documents, heed all security advisories.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.