Exit Strategy for COVID-19 Lockdown

Exit Strategy for COVID-19 Lockdown

The Government of India implemented a 21-day lockdown in the country on 24th March 2020 to combat the spread of deadly COVID-19. In order to end the lockdown and restore normalcy after 14th April, the government needs a strategic approach to be implemented in all the states. The exit strategy plan has been proposed by Sagar Chahara, Desai Neha Diwakar and S. Rishi Raghav of  Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) where a mechanism is presented categorizing the states into 4 stages. We are providing you with a detailed explanation of the exit strategy as per the proposal.

Note: This is just a proposal of the Exit strategy plan and is yet to be passed by the government. 

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4- Stage Categorization of States

Three parameters will be used to classify the states in order to adopt the exit plan. The 3 parameters are:

  • number of active cases in the past 7 days,
  • spread of active cases, and
  • density of cases.

If the State does not satisfy any of the below criteria and all the past active cases have been resolved before a period of 21 days, it will indicate a scenario of ‘zero’ cases where the State is classified as Stage 0.

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Stage Wise Exit Plan: List of Services to Remain Closed

The following section details the exit plan for each category of states as per the above evaluation.

Stage/
Services
Stage IV States Stage III States Stage II States Stage I States
Essential Services Allowed but
Permits must be obtained
Allowed
No Permits must be obtained
Elderly population must remain at home must remain at home must remain at home must remain at home
Inter-state passenger travel (including railways, roadways, airways, waterways, etc Closed Closed Permitted with State I states Permitted but not with stage III or stage IV state
Domestic airline services Operational between Stage-III and lower
category states
Inter-district movement Prohibited in districts with positive cases Prohibited in districts with positive cases Prohibited in districts with positive cases Must not be allowed in districts with positive cases
Industries, factories, mines can be opened (in unaffected districts) can be opened (in unaffected districts) can be opened (in unaffected districts) can be opened within the state and no interstate movement of labour allowed
Logistics movement between states and districts with no history of positive
COVID-19 cases allowed
Urban transit services (Bus, metro rail, share autos) Closed in affected districts
Can be operational in unaffected areas under lower capacity
Opened
International airports Open for arrival and departure Open for arrival and departure Open for arrival and departure Open for arrival and departure
Places of worship Closed Closed Closed Opened
All commercial and private establishments Closed Closed in affected districts Closed in affected districts Opened with safety measures
All educational, training, research, coaching institutions Closed except for conducting important exams Can be opened with safety measures
All public places and places of entertainment Closed Closed Closed Opened
Restaurants Closed
(open for delivery services)
Closed
(open for delivery services)
Open for dine-in services in unaffected districts Can be made Operational
Hospitality services such as hotels Closed Closed Closed in affected districts Can be made Operational

 

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Sector Wise Specific Strategies (Broad Guidelines)

  1. Airports

No movement of any passenger to high-risk cities/districts would be allowed. Precautionary measures will be taken for airline ground staff, crew members, CISF personnel, for passengers and at airports.

  • For airline ground staff
    – Thermal scanning
    – webinar to be conducted about precautions
    – Adequate number of masks, gloves be made available to the staff
    – Transportation vehicles like tractors, pulley, aircraft tugs should be sanitised
    – staff should wear masks all the time
  • Airline crew members & captain
    – webinar about precautions
    – Thermal scanning
    – Masks to be used all the time
  • For CISF Personnel
    – adequate training by MHA, MoCA on virus preventive measures
    – use the masks at all times.
    – To be trained in thermal scanning
  • For passengers
    – Separate boarding, security check, entry areas should be there for the elderly,
    children and pregnant women.
    – Passengers should be advised to wear masks
    – e-check in and e-boarding passes to be displayed
    – Trolleys should not be allowed beyond a point
    – Compulsory packing of suitcases have to be mandated by airlines
    – Any violation of social distancing in airports should be fined/warned.
    – The entry of passengers to airports should not be allowed 3 hours prior to flight departure.
  • At Airports
    – Regular sanitation of the premises
    – regular cleaning of the points of frequent contacts
    – Provision of temporary handwashing to be placed after the entry into the airports
    – Passengers must be re-sanitized after security check
    – Food courts, lounges, shops must ensure adequate social distancing and other aseptic precautions.
    – The passengers can be given hand sanitizer by the airline staff while final boarding happens.

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2. Railway Stations

Passenger Trains should not stop in category 3,4 states. For stage 1 and stage 2 states:

  • Thermal scanning at every railway station
  • Social distancing at ticket counters.
  • Temporary washbasins at platforms
  • Middle berth bookings should not be allowed in trains to allow for more space for social distancing
  • TTE and other staff should be given masks.
  • Clean the regularly touched surfaces like the doorknobs.
  • Gates of trains need to be strictly closed
  • During Pit line examination, complete cleaning and sanitisation of trains to be
    done
  • The tickets should have a QR code that can be scanned at the entry gate where the security check of luggage is being performed

3. Roadways

  • Buses
    – No restriction of bus movements in Stage 1 states (within city and intercity)
    – Buses should be properly sanitised.
    – Protective gear must be given to the bus conductor and driver.
    – tickets to be issued by digital payment
  • Metro Rail
    – Metros need to increase their operational frequency to reduce the rush.
    – Security check counters to be increased
    – Frequent announcements on COVID-19 precautions
    – Sanitisation of all passengers prior to security check
    – All employees must be duly briefed on COVID-19 precautions
  • Inter-State Transport
    – Transport of essential items, trucks carrying these items and other pass holder vehicles through National Highways only as far as possible (for Stage 4 and 3 states). For Stages 1 and 2, other vehicles also to be allowed on National Highways only.
    – – Designated stoppage points with health and safety precautions on National highways.
    – Designated entry and exit points for a district on the national highways.
  • Intra State Transport
    – For Stage 4 and Stage 3 states, transport of only essential goods and services to be permitted as far as possible in affected districts.
    – District borders locked down in case of high incident rates
    – State transport to be opened gradually with 50% of the tickets to prevent crowding in Stage 3 and 4 states

4. Courier Agencies

  • Private courier agencies in Stage 3 and Stage 4 states to be allowed only for
    essential goods. The contact of courier services with high impact districts to be avoided.
  • In Stage 1 and 2 states, 100% contactless courier services to be encouraged.
  • Online training modules of the HR heads of major courier services can be organised.

5. Courts and Judiciary 

  • In Stage 4 and Stage 3 states
    – To be opened only for matters of constitutional importance (For High Courts)
    and for highly sensitive, time-bound cases.
    – Dates of other ongoing cases to be delayed
    – Work from Home for non-essential, administrative court staff with the use of
    e-courts.
    – Offices of notaries, stamp vendors, etc. in the court premises to remain close
  • In Stage 1 and Stage 2 states
    – Courts must function normally
    – Courts to start online work and use of e-courts for non-essential, procedural matters to reduce the load on the infrastructure in future.

6. Agriculture

For major market and aggregation places

  • To be avoided (unless they are major APMC markets) in Stage 3 and Stage 4 states.
  • Will be opened in Stage 1 states and can be opened with segregation in Stage 2 states.
  • Sanitisation of the marketplace, equipment and the people involved being the responsibility of the market committee.
  • Segregation of the marketplace can happen based on products or based on
    the geography.
  • Use of e-NAM and APGRAMS to avoid community gathering in market places.

For Vendors

  • Complete ban on the door to door sale of vegetables and milk, etc. in Stage 3 and 4 states by private vendors.
  • Vegetable market should be open for multiple days in a week to avoid the rush on
    a single day.
  • Ideal practices of safe distancing, Marking boxes on the roads (as seen in Kerala) to be followed by the Nagar Panchayats and Gram Panchayats.
  • For villages without a regular market, the state transport services can be temporarily used to transport vegetables and fruits.

ICMR Testing Strategy

Now the question is if the same strategy will be adopted by the government to end lockdown or it will declare some other options. Stay tuned for more information.

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