Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: India to partially relax business restrictions from April 20 amid nationwide curfew. Flight ban, additional measures remain in place.

This alert affects India

This alert began 15 Apr 2020 09:50 GMT and is scheduled to expire 04 May 2020 09:59 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 introduced extended guidelines April 15 to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In addition to the extended nationwide curfew until at least May 3, the use of facial masks or other coverings is compulsory in public spaces effective immediately. The curfew, which first began March 25 for a period of 21 days, along with other restrictive measures, suspends all nonessential activities. Residents are required to stay in their homes unless working in essential services or purchasing essential goods during designated times.

Effective April 20, areas identified as low-risk for COVID-19 transmission may enjoy the relaxation of business restrictions. The exempted operations, outside essential and emergency services, that may resume, granted hygiene and social distancing measures are in place, include agriculture, in-situ construction, electronic commerce, energy, export, fisheries, and services such as carpentry, manufacturing, mining, and software sectors. Industries in designated zones and rural areas with less or no reported cases are likely to resume operations from April 20; restrictions on capacity and operational hours may apply. 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.

Numerous transport restrictions are also in place. All passenger rail, metro services, and buses remain suspended. Interstate and inter-district transport is 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. Sporadic clashes are possible if any group attempts to enforce business closures or defies official orders. Police are likely to act quickly to control such incidents. 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 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

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 April 30, 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 April 14, 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.

Resources
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Help Page: https://mohfw.gov.in

Bureau of Immigration: https://boi.gov.in

World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int