The central government on Wednesday asked states to step up efforts to contain coronavirus cases especially in areas where a spike has been reported in recent weeks. Issuing a set of guidelines that will be effective from December 1, the Home Ministry suggested measures including local restrictions such as night curfews, stricter enforcement of containment zones and encouraging “Covid-appropriate” behaviour.
The centre said states can impose additional fines and curbs on gatherings but there can’t be any lockdown outside containment zones without its permission.
The government call for stricter enforcement of existing rules like mask-wearing, social distancing and said it will issue formal rules for markets and weekly bazaars.
India’s coronavirus caseload passed 90 lakh last week with a surge in places like New Delhi, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh where hospitals came under increasing pressure.
The world’s second-worst-hit country, India has now also registered more than 1.34 lakh deaths from COVID-19, according to the latest official figures, which are widely seen as understating the true scale of infection.
The country has seen a drop in daily cases over the past month but it is still registering about 45,000 new infections on average every day.
New Delhi, facing the dual scourge of winter pollution and coronavirus, has seen infections soar to nearly 5.5 lakh with a record rise in daily cases.
The capital’s government quadrupled fines for not wearing a mask or violating safety rules to get a grip on the outbreak.
Several other states like Punjab, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh have announced night curfews.
The centre has dispatched special teams to help bring cases down to several states and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday held a meeting with Chief Ministers of the eight worst-hit ones.
India imposed a strict lockdown in March but restrictions have been gradually eased as the government seeks to reboot the economy after the loss of lakhs of jobs.
Experts say this has helped spread the disease, as has a general reluctance to wear masks, maintain physical distancing and celebrations during the festive season.