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Lockdown 4: States to classify red, orange, green zones, list containment and buffer zones

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday issued the guidelines for Lockdown 4.0 and will remain in effect till May 31. The nationwide lockdown was first enforced on March 25 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and the fourth phase of this process focuses on the revival…

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday issued the guidelines for Lockdown 4.0 and will remain in effect till May 31. The nationwide lockdown was first enforced on March 25 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and the fourth phase of this process focuses on the revival of businesses with respect to special attention to preventative measures to prevent infection.

According to the MHA’s latest order, states/UTs have now been given the power to decide on the delineation of red, green and orange zones. This is in accordance with suggestions by various chief ministers who had urged the PM to grant them the authority during the most recent virtual interaction held earlier this month. The Prime Minister had also said that states will be given more power to take control of the situation going ahead.

States/UTs, however, will have to make these decisions while abiding by the parameters listed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the Government of India (GOI).

What are buffer, containment zones?

In the MoHFW’s “Containment Plan for Large Outbreaks” issued on March 11, the authority has stated the guidelines for containment and buffer zones as, “Boundary for geographic quarantine will be defined based on : (i) geospatial distribution of each cluster contained within, (ii) largest administrative unit containing all clusters occurring within a state (with a minimum of 1 district), (iii) feasibility to implement strict interruption of movement of people, (iv) joint assessment by State and Central RRTs. The adjoining blocks of the affected district or rural districts of the affected city will be considered as the buffer zone.”

How are green, red, orange zones defined?

In a letter dated April 30, 2020, the MoHFW had stated, “The Green Zones will be districts with either zero confirmed cases till date; or, no confirmed case in the last 21 days. The classification of districts as Red Zones will take into account the total number of active cases, doubling rate of confirmed cases, extent of testing and surveillance feedback from the districts. Those districts, which are neither defined as Red nor Green, shall be classified as Orange zones.”

According to the MHA’s latest order, while state/UT governments will now have the power to delineate red, orange and green zones, the power to demarcate containment zones and buffer zones will rest with district authorities.

In addition, states and UTs have also been empowered to prohibit certain activities in various zones and impose such restrictions as deemed necessary in the best interest of public health.

Earlier, a weekly updated list was shared with states/UTs by the MoHFW while allowing states/UTs to include additional districts but not to lower the classification of any district included in the list by the MoHFW as a red or orange zone.

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