Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Tamil Nadu State extends COVID-19 restrictions through Aug. 31; several regions of southern India continue banning nonessential activity.
- Alert Begins: 30 Jul 2020 12:05 PM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Aug 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
Tamil Nadu State is extending its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions through at least Aug. 31; several other southern Indian regions are imposing strict restrictions on nonessential activity in areas with a significant number of COVID-19 cases as of July 30. Less severe measures are in place outside of containment zones and urban centers; limited public transport 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 overseas or other Indian states 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 Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad, have reported no significant decrease in cases, delaying normalization. Measures are likely to undergo modifications from Aug. 1. Current or planned measures include:
- Andaman and Nicobar: Effective Aug. 1, officials will impose weekend curfews until further instructions. Residents must stay home except in case of emergency; all nonessential businesses and transport will suspend operations. On other days, businesses and transport services can operate with 50 percent staff or customer capacity. Authorities have also restricted vehicle movement on the National Highway 4 (NH 4) to protect tribal populations from COVID-19 outbreaks; only one convoy will leave Jirtkatang at 1000 daily and return from Middle Strait 1500. The route, also called the Andaman Trunk Road, connects Port Blair to the North and Middle Andaman District; some shipping delays may occur due to vehicle checking. Only passengers with prior online permission may enter the union territory; travelers entering or transiting the Jarawa tribal reserve, as well as Nicobar District must produce certification of their COVID-19 negative status.
- Andhra Pradesh: Officials in East Godavari District will impose a 24-hour curfew starting at 0600, every Sunday, until further notice; commercial establishments will function 0600-1100 on other days. Nonessential activity is banned in high-risk areas of Guntur, Kadapa, Kunnoor, Nellore, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, and West Godavari districts through at least July 31; urban centers are most affected. Such zones in Chittoor will see similar restrictions through Aug. 2. Similar measures are likely in other areas with reported COVID-19 clusters. All entrants to the state must obtain prior electronic permission. Only essential and emergency movement of people and vehicles are allowed during curfews; all nonessential businesses except permitted industries and workplaces must close. Limited inter-district and inter-state transport are functional, and businesses are operational outside containment zones. International passengers entering the state will be subject to a seven-day institutional quarantine and seven-day home quarantine; passengers may choose to avail approved private facilities such as hotels.
- Karnataka: Authorities will lift the ongoing nightly 2100-0500 curfew Aug. 1. However, the statewide weekly Sunday curfew will continue until further notice. Shivamogga District is curbing nonessential movement 1400-0500 daily until further notice but allowing industrial operations. Businesses, public and private transport, as well as some public sites, are open in noncontainment zones. Asymptomatic passengers may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence. Those entering with a COVID-19 test result obtained within 48 hours of travel, as well as travelers leaving the state within 48 hours, are exempt from quarantine. Travelers intending to stay fewer than seven days in the state must undergo a paid COVID-19 test upon arrival and 48-hour institutional quarantine until results arrive.
- Kerala: The state is modifying and extending restrictions in almost 500 high-risk areas until further notice. Affected locations include Aluva of Ernakulam District and parts of Wayanad District. Entry and exit to demarcated regions are limited to select transit points and for essential purposes only; authorities have banned all public and nonessential private transport. Officials are advising residents 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. Authorities have introduced business and transport relaxations in areas outside of containment zones, including in Thiruvananthapuram city. In the capital city, businesses except large retail centers, dine-in eateries, and grooming services may operate 0700-1900; government and private offices will operate with a workforce of 25 and 33 percent respectively. Public and private transport is functional with 50 percent passenger load. Asymptomatic passengers may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.
- Puducherry: As of July 30, all businesses may function until 2000 daily. Some religious and public sites are open, though beaches and inter-state travel are closed. Asymptomatic passengers may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence.
- Tamil Nadu: Authorities are extending a statewide ban on nonemergency movement and activity daily 2100-0500, and on all Sundays through Aug. 31. Businesses and workplaces, including e-commerce and dine-in eateries, outside of containment zones may reopen on other days. 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; a maximum of 50 percent of workers may return to offices with company-arranged transport services. While eateries, as well as hotels and other accommodation may function, public sites such as parks, entertainment venues, sports facilities, places of worship, and tourist spots will remain closed through Aug. 31. Officials have suspended public buses, nonemergency inter-state travel, and inter-district transport through at least Aug. 31; however, limited private transport with restricted passenger loads are available. 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: Officials in Huzurabad, Karim Nagar District, are banning all nonessential activity through Aug. 5; residents are only allowed to leave home 0600-1100 for essential or emergency purposes. Traders in Nalgonda city are voluntarily shutting nonessential businesses through Aug. 14; essential businesses such as grocery shops will operate until 1300 daily while transport services will function normally. Similar measures are underway in parts of Medak District through Aug. 13, and are possible in other areas. Elsewhere, businesses outside containment zones are open. All businesses 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 necessary 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. 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 protective 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.