Ministry of Home Affairs

MHA Guidelines for effective control of COVID-19

States/ UTs mandated to strictly enforce Test- Track-Treat protocol, Containment measures,COVID-Appropriate behavior and SOPs on various activities

Posted On: 23 MAR 2021

  • Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an Order todaywith Guidelinesfor effective control of COVID-19, which will be effective from April 1, 2021, andremain in force uptoApril 30, 2021.
  • The main focus of the Guidelines is to consolidate the substantial gains achieved in containing the spread of COVID-19, which was visible in the sustained decline in the number of active cases, continuously for about 5 months.
  • Keeping in view a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases, which is being witnessed in some parts of the country, the guidelines mandate the State/ UT Governments to strictly enforce the Test- Track-Treat protocol in all parts of the country; ensure observance of COVID appropriate behaviour by everyone; and, to scale up the vaccination drive, to cover all the target groups.
  • It is also emphasised that in order to ensure that the resumption of activities is successful and to fully overcome the pandemic, there is need to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy, and strictly observe the guidelines/ SOPs issued by MHA and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW) and other Ministries/ Departments of the Central Government and State/ UT Governments.

Test- Track-Treat protocol

  • States and UTs, where the proportion of RT-PCR tests is less, should rapidly increase it, to reach the prescribed level of 70 percent or more.
  • The new positive cases, detected as a result of intensive testing, need to be isolated/ quarantined at the earliestand provided timely treatment.
  • Further as per the protocol, their contacts have to be traced at the earliest, and similarly isolated/ quarantined.
  • Based on the positive cases and tracking of their contacts, Containment Zones shall be carefully demarcated by the district authorities, at the micro level, taking into consideration the guidelines prescribed by the MoHFWin this regard.
  • The list of Containment Zones will be notified on the websites by the respective District Collectors and by the States/ UTs. This list will also be shared with MoHFW on a regular basis.
  • Within the demarcated Containment Zones, containment measures, as prescribed by MoHFW, shall be scrupulously followed, which include strict perimeter control, intensive house-to-house surveillance, contact tracing, ssurveillance for ILI/ SARI cases etc.
  • Local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed Containment measures are strictly followed and State/ UT Governments shall ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard.

COVID appropriate behavior

  • State/ UT Governments shall take all necssary measures to promote COVID-19 appropriate behaviour in work places and in public, especially in crowded places.
  • For strict enforcement of wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing, States and UTs may consider administrative actions, including imposition of appropriate fines.
  • National Directives for COVID-19 Management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, so as to enforce COVID-19 appropriate behavior.

Local restrictions

  • States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions, at district/ sub-district and city/ ward level, with a view to contain the spread of COVID-19.

No restriction on Inter-State and intra-State movement

  • There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

Strict adherence to the prescribed SOPs

  • All activities have been permitted outside Containment Zones and SOPs have been prescribed for various activities. These include: movement by passenger trains; air travel; metro trains; schools; higher educational institutions; hotels and restaurants; shopping malls, multiplexes and entertainment parks; yoga centres and gymnasiums; exhibitions, assemblies and congregations, etc.
  • The SOPs, as updated from time to time, shall be strictly enforced by the authorities concerned, who shall be responsible for their strict observance.

Vaccination

  • Government of India has launched the world’s largest vaccination drive against COVID-19.
  • While the vaccination drive is proceeding smoothly, the pace is uneven across different States and UTs; and, the slow pace of vaccination in some States/ UTs is a matter of concern. Vaccination against COVID-19, in the present scenario, is critical to break the chain of transmission.
  • Therefore, all State/ UT Governments should rapidly step up the pace of vaccination, to cover all priority groups in an expeditious manner.

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(Release ID: 1706966) 

No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A)
Government of India

Ministry of Home Affairs

North Block, New Delhi-110001
Dated 23rd March, 2021

ORDER

Whereas, an Order of even number dated 27.01.2021 was issued for containment of COVID-19 in the country, for a period upto 28.02.2021, which was further extended for a period upto 31.03.2021 vide an Order of even number dated 26.02.2021;

Whereas, in exercise of the powers under section 6(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has directed the undersigned to issue an order with guidelines for containment of COVID-19 in the country;

Now therefore, in exercise of the powers, conferred under Section 10(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, the undersigned hereby directs that guidelines for effective control of COVID-19, as annexed, will be in force upto 30.04.2021.

Union Home Secretary
and, Chairman, National Executive Committee (NEC)

To:

1. The Secretaries of Ministries/ Departments of Government of India

2. The Chief Secretaries/Administrators of States/Union Territories

(As per list attached)

Copy to:

i. All Members of the National Executive Committee

ii. Member Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority

Guidelines for effective control of COVID-19
[As per Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I (A)
dated 23rd March, 2021]

The coordinated effort of Central and State/UT agencies has resulted in a sustained decline in the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country, continuously for about 5 months. A fresh surge in COVID-19 cases, in some parts of the country, however, is a cause of concern. At this juncture, the substantial gains achieved against the spread of COVID-19 need to be consolidated, and the chain of transmission of the pandemic effectively broken, with a view to expeditiously restore complete normalcy.

With the last guidelines issued by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 27.1.2021, all economic and other activities have been opened up in a phased manner, with the stipulation that the prescribed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) be scrupulously followed. In order to ensure that the resumption of activities is successful, it is imperative to strictly enforce the Test- Track-Treat protocol in all parts of the country; ensure that COVID appropriate behaviour is scrupulously observed by everyone; and, the ongoing vaccination drive — the largest in the world — is scaled up rapidly, to cover all the target groups.

The following guidelines are issued to be effective from l’ April, 2021.

Effective enforcement of the Test-Track-Treat protocol

Test

1. With sustained effort, the capacity of total daily tests that can be conducted across the country has gone up substantially. There is need to ensure that the tests being conducted are uniformly distributed across all districts, with adequate testing to be done in districts reporting higher number of cases. The proportion of RT-PCR tests in the total mix should be scaled up, on best effort basis, to 70% or more. States and UTs, where the proportion of RT-PCR tests is less, should rapidly increase testing through this protocol, to reach the prescribed level.

Track

2. The new positive cases detected as a result of intensive testing need to be isolated/ quarantined at the earliest; and, their contacts have to be traced at the earliest, and similarly isolated/ quarantined. Containment Zones, accordingly, have to be demarcated, and prescribed containment measures implemented within such Zones.

3. Effective demarcation of Containment Zones, in vulnerable and high incidence areas, is key to breaking the chain of transmission and controlling the spread of the virus. Containment Zones shall be carefully demarcated by the district authorities, at the micro level, taking into consideration the guidelines prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in this regard. The list of Containment Zones will be notified on the websites by the respective District Collectors and by the States/ UTs. This list will also be shared with MoHFW on a regular basis.

4. Within the demarcated Containment Zones, containment measures, as prescribed by MoHFW, shall be scrupulously followed, as under:

i. Only essential activities shall be allowed in the Containment Zones.

ii. There shall be strict perimeter control to ensure that there is no movement of people in or out of these zones, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining supply of essential goods and services.

iii. There shall be intensive house-to-house surveillance by surveillance teams formed for the purpose.

iv. Testing shall be carried out as per prescribed protocol.

v. Listing of contacts shall be carried out in respect of all persons found positive, along with their tracking, identification, quarantine and follow up of contacts for 14 days (80% of contacts to be traced in 72 hours).

vi. Surveillance for ILI/ SARI cases shall be carried out in health facilities or outreach mobile units or through fever clinics in buffer zones.

vii. It shall be the responsibility of local district, police and municipal authorities to ensure that the prescribed Containment measures are strictly followed. State/ UT Governments shall ensure accountability of the officers concerned in this regard.

Treat

5. Quick isolation of COVID-19 patients shall be ensured in treatment facilities/ home (subject to fulfilling the home isolation guidelines).

6. Clinical interventions, as prescribed, shall be administered. Capacity building of health workers and professionals shall be an ongoing exercise, to be conducted at all levels, with a view to ensure that the prescribed clinical management protocol is understood clearly and administered accordingly.

7. The concerned agencies — of the Central and State/ UT Governments — shall ensure adequate availability of COVID dedicated ,health and logistics (including ambulatory) infrastructure, based on their assessment of the case trajectory.

8. Effective infection prevention and control practices shall be followed in treatment facilities and by health care workers and professionals.

COVID appropriate behavior

9. State/ UT Governments shall take all necssary measures to promote COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. Strict enforcement of wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing must be ensured.

10. Wearing of face masks is an essential preventive measure. In order to enforce this core requirement, States and UTs may consider administrative actions, including imposition of appropriate fines, on persons not wearing face masks in public and work spaces.

11. Observance of social distancing in crowded places, especially in markets, weekly bazaars and public transport, is also critical for containing the spread of the infection. SOP issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to regulate crowds in market places, shall be strictly enforced by States and UTs.

12. SOPs for regulating travel in aircrafts, trains and metro rails are already in place, which shall be strictly enforced. States and UTs shall issue necessary guidelines for regulating travel in other modes of public transport, e.g., buses, boats etc., and ensure that these are strictly complied with.

13. The National Directives for COVID-19 Management, as specified in Annexure I, shall be strictly followed throughout the country.

Strict adherence to the prescribed SOPs

14. All activities have been permitted outside Containment Zones and SOPs have been prescribed for various activities. These include: movement by passenger trains; air travel; metro trains; schools; higher educational institutions; hotels and restaurants; shopping malls, multiplexes and entertainment parks; yoga centres and gymnasiums; exhibitions, assemblies and congregations, etc.

15. The SOPs, as updated from time to time, shall be strictly enforced by the authorities concerned, who shall be responsible for their strict observance.

Vaccination

16. Government of India has launched the world’s largest vaccination drive against COVID-19. The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) provides guidance on prioritization of population groups, procurement & inventory management, and vaccine selection delivery and tracking. The recommendations of NEGVAC are considered and finalized by the Central Government.

17. While the vaccination drive is proceeding smoothly, the pace is uneven across different States and UTs; and, the slow pace of vaccination in some States/ UTs is a matter of concern. Vaccination against COVID-19, in the present scenario, is critical to break the chain of transmission. Therefore, all State/ UT Governments should rapidly step up the pace of vaccination, to cover all priority groups, as recommended by NEGVAC and approved by the Central Government, urgently and in an expeditious manner.

Local restrictions

18. States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions at district/ sub-district and city/ ward level, with a view to contain the spread of COVID-19.

19. There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

Protection of vulnerable persons

20. Persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years are advised to take necessary precautions.

Use of Aarogya Setu

21. Use of Aarogya Setu may continue on best effort basis on compatible mobile phones. This will facilitate timely provision of medical attention to those individuals who are at risk.

Strict enforcement of the guidelines

22. All the District Magistrates shall strictly enforce the above measures. For the enforcement of social distancing, State/ UT Governments may, as far as possible, use the provisions of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973.

23. Any person violating these measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, besides legal action under Section188 of the IPC, and other legal provisions as applicable. Extracts of these penal provisions are at Annexure II.

Annexure I

NATIONAL DIRECTIVES FOR COVID-19 MANAGEMENT

1. Face coverings: Wearing of face cover is compulsory in public places; in workplaces; and during transport.

2. Social distancing: Individuals must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet (2 gaz ki doori) in public places.

Shops will ensure physical distancing among customers.

3. Spitting in public places will be punishable with fine, as may be prescribed by the State/ UT local authority in accordance with its laws, rules or regulations.

Additional directives for Work Places

4. Work from home (WfH): As far as possible the practice of WfH should be followed.

5. Staggering of work/ business hours will be followed in offices, work places, shops, markets and industrial & commercial establishments.

6. Screening & hygiene: Provision for thermal scanning, hand wash or sanitizer will be made at all entry points and of hand wash or sanitizer at exit points and common areas.

7. Frequent sanitization of entire workplace, common facilities and all points which come into human contact e.g. door handles etc., will be ensured, including between shifts.

8. Social distancing: All persons in charge of work places will ensure adequate distance between workers and other staff.

***

Annexure II

Offences and Penalties for Violation of Lockdown Measures

A. Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005

51. Punishment for obstruction, etc.—Whoever, without reasonable cause__

(a) obstructs any officer or employee of the Central Government or the State Government, or a person authorised by the National Authority or State Authority or District Authority in the discharge of his functions under this Act; or

(b) refuses to comply with any direction given by or on behalf of the Central Government or the State Government or the National Executive Committee or the State Executive Committee or the District Authority under this Act,

shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both, and if such obstruction or refusal to comply with directions results in loss of lives or imminent danger thereof, shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.

52. Punishment for false claim.—Whoever knowingly makes a claim which he knows or has reason to believe to be false for obtaining any relief, assistance, repair, reconstruction or other benefits consequent to disaster from any officer of the Central Government, the State Government, the National Authority, the State Authority or the District Authority, shall, on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, and also with fine.

53. Punishment for misappropriation of money or materials, etc.___ Whoever, being entrusted with any money or materials, or otherwise
being, in custody of, or dominion over, any money or goods, meant for providing relief in any threatening disaster situation or disaster, misappropriates or appropriates for his own use or disposes of such money or materials or any part thereof or wilfully compels any other person so to do, shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, and also with fine.

54. Punishment for false warning.___ Whoever makes or circulates
a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.

55. Offences by Departments of the Government.—(1) Where an offence under this Act has been committed by any Department of the Government, the head of the Department shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a Department of the Government and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any officer, other than the head of the Department, such officer shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

56. Failure of officer in duty or his connivance at the contravention of the provisions of this Act.____ Any officer, on whom any
duty has been imposed by or under this Act and who ceases or refuses to perform or withdraws himself from the duties of his office shall, unless he has obtained the express written permission of his official superior or has other lawful excuse for so doing, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine.

57. Penalty for contravention of any order regarding requisitioning.—If any person contravenes any order made under section 65, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.

58. Offence by companies.—(1) Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company or body corporate, every person who at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company, for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the contravention and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly:

Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to any punishment provided in this Act, if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company, and it is proved that the offence was committed with the consent or connivance of or is attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also, be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Explanation.—For the purpose of this section

(a) “company” means anybody corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals; and

(b) “director”, in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.

59. Previous sanction for prosecution.—No prosecution for offences punishable under sections 55 and 56 shall be instituted except with the previous sanction of the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, or of any officer authorised in this behalf, by general or special order, by such Government.

60. Cognizance of offences._____ No court shall take cognizance of an offence under this Act except on a complaint made by-

(a) the National Authority, the State Authority, the Central Government, the State Government, the District Authority or any other authority or officer authorised in this behalf by that Authority or Government, as the case may be; or

(b) any person who has given notice of not less than thirty days in the manner prescribed, of the alleged offence and his intention to make a complaint to the National Authority, the State Authority, the Central Government, the State Government, the District Authority or any other authority or officer authorised as aforesaid.

B. Section 188 in the Indian Penal Code, 1860

188. Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant.—Whoever, knowing that, by an order promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to promulgate such order, he is directed to abstain from a certain act, or to take certain order with certain property in his possession or under his management, disobeys such direction, shall, if such disobedience causes or tends to cause obstruction, annoyance or injury, or risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury, to any person lawfully employed, be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both; and if such disobedience causes or trends to cause danger to human life, health or safety, or causes or tends to cause a riot or affray, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

Explanation._ It is not necessary that the offender should intend to produce harm, or contemplate his disobedience as likely to produce harm. It is sufficient that he knows of the order which he disobeys, and that his disobedience produces, or is likely to produce, harm.

Illustration

An order is promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to promulgate such order, directing that a religious procession shall not pass down a certain street. A knowingly disobeys the order, and thereby causes danger of riot. A has committed the offence defined in this section.

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