Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities relaxing business, transport restrictions in western India as of Sept. 2. Other COVID-19 controls in effect through Sept. 30.

Alert Begins 02 Sep 2020 11:54 AM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Goa, Gujarat, and Maharashtra states (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and transport disruptions, increased security; possible clashes

Summary
Authorities in the western Indian states of Goa, Gujarat, and Maharashtra are largely relaxing business, transport restrictions as of Sept. 2, in accordance with central government guidelines. However, strict curbs such as a ban on nonessential activity are in place across areas with reported coronavirus disease (COVID-19) clusters through Sept. 30.

Other nationwide measures continue until further notice. Limited public buses and private transport are operational with social distancing measures during noncurfew hours outside containment zones with COVID-19 clusters; additional relaxations to allow the resumption of Metro train services are likely from Sept. 7. Officials are also permitting limited domestic and international flights, as well as 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. People must wear facemasks in public and practice social distancing. Authorities will allow gatherings of up to 100 people, and reopening of open-air theaters from Sept. 21. Officials are also advising vulnerable groups who are younger than 10 years old or older than 65 years, as well as pregnant women and those with existing health conditions, to avoid nonessential outdoor activity. The ongoing closure of educational institutions, most sports facilities, and entertainment venues, as well as ban on large gatherings continue while businesses are required to utilize telecommuting to the extent possible. Urban centers such as Mumbai have reported no significant decrease in cases, delaying normalization. Current or planned measures include:

 

  • Goa: Most businesses are operational; bars and restaurants can reopen, albeit while enforcing social distancing measures. However, other indoor entertainment venues such as pubs and casinos must remain closed. Authorities are also allowing inter-state movement for people and vehicles; prior permission is no longer required, though proof of accommodation bookings may be necessary. Passengers arriving at Goa International Airport (GOI) no longer have to provide certificates upon arrival verifying that they tested negative for COVID-19.

 

  • Gujarat: Authorities have allowed public parks to reopen and have relaxed several commercial restrictions. Shops and food takeaway services can operate without time constraints; however, hospitality facilities such as hotels and restaurants may stay open until 2300. Entertainment and sports venues remain closed. Bus services serving Ahmedabad and Surat are operating 50-percent capacity outside containment zones; for other areas, buses may operate at 60-percent capacity. Autorickshaws are allowed to carry two passengers, while taxis and private vehicles can also carry two passengers. Local authorities may direct asymptomatic passengers to serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government facility or at home.

 

  • Maharashtra: Authorities have extended restrictions until at least Sept. 30 in containment zones, but have eased several measures elsewhere. Officials are allowing interstate and inter-district movement of people and goods; no prior permission is required. Hospitality establishments such as hotels may operate at 100-percent capacity; bars remain closed. Nonessential shops are allowed to operate, but cannot allow more than five people in at a time. Authorities are allowing private business offices to operate at 30-percent capacity, with vigilance officers being appointed to monitor adherence to social distancing and hygiene in workspaces. Private and minibus services are also permitted. Domestic and international flight operations are limited.

 


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, 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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