India stands 7th in the list of most affected countries globally by the coronavirus pandemic. Having originated in China, COVID 19 has claimed nearly 5400 lives and affected more than 1.5 lakh people in India. In order to contain the spread in a densely populated country like ours, the Indian govt imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020. This helped to an extent to limit the number from growing exponentially. The first lockdown was followed by 4 more phases of lockdowns, where only essential services like groceries, medicines were available during the first two lockdowns till May 3, 2020. Special trains were operated for people stranded in different states to return to their homes from May 12, 2020.
During the third lockdown that extended till 21st May, the country was categorized into 3 zones based on the number of cases as Red, Orange and Green. This classification was dynamic with weekly revisions and relaxations were permitted based on the type of the zone. Public transport, malls, schools, colleges, restaurants, places of worship remained to be shut still. The Lockdown 4.0 extended till May 31 had new guidelines issued for resuming economic activities. Salons, shopping complexes, except in containment zones, were permitted to be opened from May 18 with staggered timings.
Akash Ashokan, an engineer (aged 25) who works at a corporate in Gurgaon, found a hard time in coming back to his home town amidst this lockdown. He had tried to make use of the special trains by registering in the government portal for migrant workers on May 4. “Initially, there was no response. I got a call around May third week informing that there is a train on May 29, 2020. Later, it was cancelled,” he says. Finally, Ashokan succeeds in his homebound journey to Salem through a flight. He was quarantined in a govt. institution for a day. On being tested negative, he is now under isolation at home for two weeks.
As the nation enters the fifth lockdown imposed till June 30, Unlock 1.0 is announced with States easing further more restrictions. The Ministry of Health Affairs highlighted that except containment areas, places of worships, restaurants, shopping malls can resume services from June 8, 2020.
Interstate movement of people and goods without any e-pass requirement has also been approved. A curfew has been put in place between 9 p.m and 5 a.m., with the exception of essential services till June 30. Meanwhile, the Government of Tamilnadu classified the state into 8 zones with zone 7 and 8 under complete lockdown. Public transport has started to ply with 50% capacity in the rest of the six zones. Usage of a mask with social distancing norms has been made compulsory. The Centre is yet to decide on the reopening of educational institutions and entertainment spaces.