Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: States in north India gradually reducing COVID-19 restrictions through at least Sept. 30; varied restrictions remain in other regions.

Alert Begins 18 Sep 2020 03:33 PM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Movement controls, business and transport disruptions, increased security; possible clashes

Summary
As of Sept. 18, authorities in several north Indian states are gradually reducing restrictions introduced to curb coronavirus disease (COVID-19). While measures will be enforced through at least Sept. 30, some states have lifted curfews and relaxed movement and commercial restrictions. Private and public transport restrictions have been relaxed in many states, with many governments have also reduced intra- and interstate traveling restrictions. Some local governments no longer require travelers to provide passes to enter or exit the state.

Authorities continue to impose strict measures in containment zones in areas of states with higher caseloads. Officials are permitting limited domestic flights and special intercity trains for stranded passengers. Travelers from other states or countries will typically undergo a 14-day quarantine at home or in a government facility, depending on medical screening and local rules; international arrivals with a negative COVID-19 test result, and short-term domestic visitors may be exempt from quarantine. Metro rail services gradually restarted from Sept. 7 and authorities will allow gatherings of up to 100 people from Sept. 21. However, educational institutions will remain closed for students until Sept. 30. International flights remain suspended; exemptions are made for flights approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs. State governments are not allowed to enforce strict restrictions outside of containment zones without the central government’s permission. Current or planned measures include:

 

  • Chandigarh: Authorities have lifted the night curfew, which had been in effect 2200-0500. Rotational closures of shops in major markets are no longer applicable. Most businesses are functioning with reduced workforce and social distancing measures. Limited public transport is operational; interstate bus services have resumed to Punjab and Haryana. Individuals do not require special permissions for interdistrict or interstate travel. Entrants to the state will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine; however, asymptomatic passengers intending to stay for less than 72 hours are exempt from quarantine.

 

  • Chhattisgarh: Officials allow essential businesses to operate with a reduced workforce and operating hours while most nonessential operations remain closed. Authorities had relaxed some commercial measures in some worst-affected districts. Asymptomatic passengers entering the state may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.

 

  • Delhi: Authorities have relaxed some measures in noncontainment zones, including allowing markets and hospitality establishments to reopen and resuming metro rail services. Interstate travel relaxations are in place. All international passengers entering Delhi must undergo a 7-day paid institutional quarantine followed by a 7-day home quarantine unless they provide results of a COVID-19 test taken up to 96 hours before arrival. Asymptomatic domestic passengers may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.

 

  • Haryana: Authorities have reduced some commercial restrictions, allowing shops, shopping centers, and offices to operate seven days a week. Noncontainment zones across the state have reopened businesses and allowed some private and public transport services to operate. Officials may reimpose measures such as movement controls in affected districts if caseloads rise. Asymptomatic passengers entering the state and planning to stay for over 72 hours may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.

 

  • Himachal Pradesh: Interstate travel can resume, and authorities no longer require people entering the state to have a pass or online registration. Interstate bus services are suspended until further notice. Authorities may ban nonessential activity in hotspots if caseloads increase. Officials have allowed businesses to reopen, some public transport to resume, and several public sites to reopen in noncontainment zones. Tourists must present negative COVID-19 test results and an accommodation booking of at least two days upon entry. Asymptomatic passengers entering the state may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence. Those with a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result obtained within 96 hours before arrival are exempt from quarantine.

 

  • Jammu and Kashmir: Authorities continue to impose strict measures in high-risk areas, including Lakhanpur Containment Zone and Ramban district. Authorities may ban nonessential activity in areas experiencing higher caseloads. Noncontainment zones across the state have reopened some businesses, allowed limited transport services, and some public venues such as religious sites. Interstate travelers with prior permission and accommodation bookings can enter via air, rail, or land. All passengers entering the state must undergo mandatory testing and quarantine at home or a designated facility for 14 days until results arrive.

 

  • Ladakh: Nonessential activity remains banned across on Sundays until further notice. Interstate transport remains limited. Noncontainment zones across the state have reopened businesses, resumed public and private transport, and reopened several public sites. All symptomatic entrants to the state may be subject to testing and quarantine in a designated facility or home.

 

  • Madhya Pradesh: Interdistrict and interstate transport is allowed; e-passes are not required for entry into or exit out of the state. Strict measures are only in effect in containment zones. Other areas across the state are reopening businesses, transportation, and some public sites. However, some facilities, such as cinema halls and swimming pools, are to remain closed until Sept. 30. Asymptomatic passengers may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.

 

  • Punjab: Curfews are in place in towns and cities 2130-0500 Monday through Friday and Sundays through Sept. 30. Authorities have banned all nonessential activity during curfews. Officials are relaxing some movement restrictions, including allowing essential inter- and intrastate movement. Social, political, and religious gatherings remain banned. Offices may function with a maximum of 50 percent workforce; all social gatherings and public assemblies are banned through Sept. 30. Authorities may impose additional measures in affected areas. Most nonessential retail outlets must open in a staggered manner according to local instructions and close by 1830 on weekdays and weekends; movement restrictions are possible if cases rise further. Limited public transport is operational statewide with restrictions on passenger capacity; no special permissions are necessary for interdistrict or interstate travel. Entrants to the state are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine, with the first seven days spent as institutional quarantine at the traveler’s cost and the last seven days at the traveler’s residence. Passengers must also submit a self-declaration form online at least 72 hours before commencing travel.

 

  • Rajasthan: Intra and interstate public and private transport services are operational with social distancing measures. People do not require permission or e-permits for inter- or intrastate travel. Noncontainment zones across the state are reopening businesses and limited public sites. Asymptomatic passengers may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.

 

  • Uttarakhand: Authorities have allowed many businesses and public sites to reopen and public and private transport to resume in noncontainment zones. The government has removed the limit of 2,000 people visiting the state per day. Limited public and private transport are operational. Officials may enhance measures banning nonessential activity in areas experiencing higher caseloads. Travelers entering the state must register online. Passengers from high-risk areas with significant cases such as Delhi and Mumbai will undergo a 7-day institutional quarantine followed by a 7-day home quarantine. People may choose between a government institution, which does not require the traveler to pay, or a facility that requires the traveler to pay, for the institutional quarantine. People arriving from low-risk areas must quarantine at home for 14 days. Authorities are exempting people visiting the state for health and family death reasons from having to quarantine. Passengers who obtained a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test within 72 hours of arrival are also exempted from quarantine.

 

  • Uttar Pradesh: Nonessential activity remains banned statewide on weekends from 2200 on Fridays through 0500 on Mondays until further notice. Authorities have reopened some businesses and public sites in noncontainment zones. However, several facilities, such as cinemas, swimming pools, and auditoriums, remain closed. Rail services can operate. Strict measures remain in effect on Sundays. Markets can operate between 0900 and 2100. Intra- and interstate travel is allowed. International travelers entering the state must undergo 14 days quarantine at their residence; passengers may be exempt from quarantine if they obtained a negative RT-PCR test within 96 hours of departure as well as visiting due to illness or a death in the family. No quarantine is required for domestic travelers who return after having left for up to five days. If travelers return with symptoms, a COVID-19 test must be taken, and if the results are positive, the person must go to the hospital.

 


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.

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.

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, plan for queues, and delays at available shopping centers. Carry proper identification documents and 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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