Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Nonessential businesses partially resume in India, April 25, amid nationwide curfew due to COVID-19. Flight ban, other measures continue.

This alert affects India

This alert began 25 Apr 2020 01:21 GMT and is scheduled to expire 05 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 3
  • Impact: Curfew orders, travel bans, business and transport disruptions, quarantine measures; possible clashes

Summary
India has permitted the resumption of nonessential retail services outside containment zones identified to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as of April 25. An extended nationwide curfew will continue until at least May 3, and the use of facial masks or other coverings remains compulsory in public spaces. The curfew, which first began March 25 for a period of 21 days, initially barred all nonessential activity; the introduction of business relaxations started April 20, mainly in industrial zones and rural areas. Major cities across India are designated containment zones and will see no significant relaxation in restrictions.

From April 25, all retail shops, including those providing services such as hairdressing in rural areas, will reopen. Shopping malls and market complexes in urban areas will remain closed, though standalone shops and residential retail complexes may function. Businesses that reopen must restrict staff capacity, enforce hygiene measures such as the wearing of masks, as well as ensure social distancing among customers. Other exempted businesses that have partially or entirely resumed operations with hygiene and social distancing measures since April 20 include agriculture, in-situ construction, electronic commerce, energy, export, fisheries, and services such as carpentry, manufacturing, mining, and software sectors. Earlier measures, including a ban on all public gatherings and the closure of educational institutions, tourist sites, public venues, entertainment sites, and public spaces remain in place nationwide. Other measures may vary across states and union territories. Stringent restrictions on movement and business will continue in containment zones, where mobile shops typically serve essential items to residents.

Numerous transport restrictions are also in place. All passenger rail, metro services, and buses remain suspended. Interstate and inter-district transport are limited to essential and emergency purposes. The ban on all international and domestic commercial passenger flights will be in effect until further notice. Authorities have also temporarily stopped incoming passenger traffic at all air, land, river, and seaports since March 18. International cruise services remain suspended. The ban does not apply to the transportation of essential goods and supplies; however, some seaports are facing backlogs.

State administration and police will enforce and facilitate the measures. Emergency and utility services will remain operational. Although banks and businesses selling essential goods such as fuel, food, and medicines will remain open, officials will almost certainly regulate price, supply, and opening hours. Panic-buying and associated localized shortages of essential goods may occur in some areas, especially due to increased demand for Ramadan observance through May 24. Sporadic clashes are possible if any group attempts to enforce business closures or defies official orders. Police may forcibly disperse unruly crowds. Transport availability will be severely affected; public transport is likely to serve only essential workers. Authorities are permitting the operation of cargo and delivery vehicles, mainly for transportation of essential items such as food and medical supplies; industrial units with special approval may also continue necessary transport operations. Private transport operators may curtail services due to worker absenteeism or as a precaution. Restrictions on personal vehicle usage are certain, with limits on occupant number and travel purpose, unless drivers possess exemption passes from local police. Violators may face legal action.

Travel Restrictions

All domestic and international commercial passenger flights remain suspended through 2359 May 3. Authorities are advising Indian nationals to delay all nonessential international travel. Indian officials are maintaining a ban on travelers from Afghanistan, the EU, the European Free Trade Association, Malaysia, Philippines, Turkey, and the UK; authorities have barred airlines from boarding India-bound passengers from the aforementioned countries. All incoming travelers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited mainland China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and Spain on or after Feb. 15 are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine at home or in a medical facility; all other travelers are advised to self-isolate for two weeks. Travelers that have visited Italy and South Korea will also need to provide a certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from an authorized facility. Earlier, authorities suspended visa issuance and canceled previously issued visas - except diplomatic, official, UN/international organizations, employment, and project visas - of all international travelers. Travelers already in the country will receive a visa extension until at least 2359 May 3, upon online application.

Local health officials are monitoring all passengers with recent international travel history for at least the first 14 days of their stay in India. Authorities may follow up on all international travelers - regardless of nationality - typically by phone, for up to the first 28 days of their stay in India. Symptomatic passengers will be subject to further checks and possible quarantine. Passengers from affected countries and those with flu-like symptoms are especially likely to be impacted. Increased health screenings are likely to result in increased wait times at international airports and other ports when operations normalize.

Additional measures could be introduced in the coming days, especially if the number of in-country cases increases.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar 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.

Advice
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 at least through May 3, 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.


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