Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Modified business, transport, movement restrictions in place across southern India through at least July 31, with regional variations.
- Alert Begins: 08 Jul 2020 10:42 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Telangana states (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Business and transport disruptions; increased security; possible clashes
As of July 8, most regions in southern India have relaxed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions outside of containment zones; limited public buses and all forms of private transport are operational in such areas. Special intercity trains for stranded passengers and limited domestic flights are also permitted. Entrants from other states or countries will undergo a 14-day quarantine; symptomatic passengers will stay in a medical facility while asymptomatic patients will 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. Major cities, such as Chennai and Hyderabad, have reported no significant decrease in cases, delaying normalization. Current or planned measures include:
- Andhra Pradesh: All entrants to the state must obtain prior electronic permission. Limited inter-district and inter-state transport is functional while businesses are operational. International passengers entering the state will be subject to seven-day institutional quarantine and seven-day home quarantine; passengers may choose to avail approved private facilities such as hotels.
- Karnataka: In addition to the nationwide nightly 2200-0500 curfew, a weekly curfew on Sundays is in place through at least Aug 2. Only essential and emergency movement of people and vehicles are allowed during curfews; all nonessential businesses must close. Asymptomatic passengers may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.
- Kerala: The state is implementing a strict containment strategy in Thiruvananthapuram city through at least July 13. Entry and exit to the city are limited to selected transit points and essential purposes; all public transport and nonessential private transport is banned. Only essential businesses will function; residents are advised to stay home and use delivery services to the extent possible. Other cities 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.
- Puducherry: Officials have alternated between relaxations and reimposition of restrictions since June 8. As of July 8, all businesses may function until 2000 daily. Some religious and public sites are open, though beaches and inter-state travel - earlier opened for a brief period - are closed. Authorities are considering suspending nonessential activity on Sundays, though no decision is public as of July 8. Asymptomatic passengers may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.
- Tamil Nadu: Through July, a statewide ban on nonemergency movement and activity will be in place on all Sundays (July 12, 19, 26). Businesses and workplaces, including e-commerce and dine-in eateries, may reopen on other days outside containment zones. Large retail centers such as malls remain closed. Retail outlets must switch off air conditioning, limit customers, and close by 2000 daily. Employers are encouraged to mandate telecommuting to the extent possible. Hotels and other accommodation, as well as religious sites in urban areas, will remain closed through July 31. While officials have banned nonemergency inter-state travel until further notice, inter-district transport will remain suspended through at least July 15. Limited public buses and all forms of private transport with restricted passenger loads are available in noncontainment zones. Stricter measures are ongoing in Madurai and Chennai cities. While there is a complete ban on nonessential activity in Madurai through July 12, businesses in the Greater Chennai area, except food delivery services, must close by 1800. Asymptomatic passengers may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.
- Telangana: Businesses outside containment zones can operate normally. All business operations and services must close by 2130 daily until further notice. Limited public transport and all forms of private transport may run. Although no electronic passes are required for inter-state travel, reports indicate low availability of transport services, and local authorities have rejected travelers on nonessential trips at checkpoints. Businesses in Hyderabad may resume with a limited workforce, though telecommuting is strongly encouraged and widely followed. Authorities may announce modifications to the guidelines July 17. 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 until further notice.
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.