Critical Alert

Multiple states in eastern India generally easing coronavirus disease-related measures as of October. Certain restrictions remain in effect. 

Alert Begins 02 Oct 2020 05:59 PM UTC
Alert Expires 02 Nov 2020 11:59 PM UTC

 

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal states 
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and transport disruptions, increased security; possible clashes

 

Summary
Authorities in the eastern Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand are largely relaxing coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related business and transport restrictions as of Oct. 2, per central government guidelines. However, strict curbs, such as a ban on nonessential activity, are in place in areas with reported disease clusters through Oct. 31.

Current or planned measures include:

 

  • Bihar: The state is following "Unlock-5" guidelines. Under the rules, certain categories of establishments, such as cinemas and amusement parks, can reopen from Oct. 15 with reduced capacity. Gatherings remain limited to 100 people or fewer. Previous curfews have been lifted outside of designated containment zones.

 

  • Jharkhand: The state government is allowing religious venues to reopen outside containment zones from Oct. 8. Authorities will also prohibit people from celebrating the Durga Puja festival Oct. 22 outside their homes or temples. Officials have allowed some commercial establishments, such as hotels and restaurants, to reopen. Interdistrict travel is permitted for buses, although interstate bus travel remains banned. Asymptomatic passengers entering the state may serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their residence; however, authorities are exempting travelers who will exit the state within 72 hours of arrival.

 

  • Odisha: Authorities are maintaining restrictions across the state through at least late October. Several facilities and establishments, including places of worship, cinemas, and swimming pools, must remain closed until Oct. 31. Officials also require schools and higher education establishments to keep closed. Gatherings at marriages and last rites ceremonies cannot exceed 50 and 20 people respectively. Large gatherings are prohibited until Oct. 31. The government reportedly plans to reopen some tourist sites in October but has not set a specific date.

 

  • West Bengal: The state government has allowed theaters and cinemas to reopen. However, authorities continue to enforce social distancing and gathering restrictions, prohibiting more than 50 people from gathering at a time, including within reopened theaters and cinemas. Limited metro services have resumed with enhanced social distancing measures. The state government will also require the wearing of facemasks and compliance with strict social distancing guidelines during the Durga Puja festival Oct. 22.

 

Local administrative authorities 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.

 

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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