Lockdown: What Have Been Classified as Essential Commodities & Services
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day country-wide lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, beginning March 24 midnight, here’s a list of essential services and commodities which will be available during the lockdown.
The central government has exempted the following essential commodities and services which the citizens will be able to access during this period:
• The offices of defence, central armed police forces, treasury, public utilities (Including petroleum, CNG, LPG, PNG), disaster management, power generation and transmission units, post offices, National Informatics Centre, Early Warning Agencies.
• Offices related to electricity, water, sanitation, municipal bodies
• Hospitals and all related medical establishments, including their manufacturing and distribution units, both in public and private sector, such as dispensaries, chemist and medical equipment shops. Further, laboratories, clinics, nursing homes, ambulance etc. will continue to remain functional.
• Shops including ration shops (under PDS), dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, animal fodder.
• Banks, insurance offices, and ATMs.
• Print and electronic media, telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services.
• Delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment through e-commerce has also been allowed.
• Petrol pumps, LPG, petroleum and gas retail and storage outlets.
• Power generation, transmission and distribution units
• Capital and debt market services as notified by the Securities and Exchange
• Private security services
• Manufacturing and transportation of essential goods has been exempted
• Hotels, homestays, lodges and motels which are accommodating tourists and stranded persons.
Dist admin fixes timing for wholesale, retail stores
In order to make the purchase of essential commodities hassle free for the customers and to make it easy for the retailers to stock the items, the Kamrup (Metro) district administration has fixed the opening and closing timing of wholesale and retail shops including fair price shops, departmental stores, grocery section of shopping malls in Guwahati.
The wholesale shops will remain open from 8.00 am to 4.00 PM whereas the retail outlets will remain operation from 9.00 AM till 6.00 PM.
Further, the district administration has ordered the owners to sanitize their shops at regular intervals and also to ensure social distancing for the staff and customers.
It is to be mentioned that during the first day of the nation-wide lockdown announced for coronavirus, retailers failed to connect with wholesalers in the city as a majority of the wholesalers in Fancy Bazar had shut their shops.
Further, the district administration had earlier announced that the grocery section of malls and departmental will be exempted from the lockdown.
How to purchase essential commodities during lockdown?
Authorities have stressed that people should not venture out too far to purchase the essential commodities during lockdown and must only go to their nearest grocery story, pharmacy or ATMs to avail the services or buy goods.
For this, the officials have asked citizens not to take out their cars and to go walking to their nearest store.
Further, while addressing a recent press meet, Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta emphasised on the need to maintain social distancing and said that police officials across the state are making sure that there is no crowd of people in grocery stores and to buy other essential items.
“We have demarcated places outside essential shops where people should stand at proper distance while purchasing these items and should not crowd the shop. We have deployed adequate personnel to ensure the same,” said Mahanta.
He added that no more than four people would be allowed to move or gather in a group together to ensure that social distancing is being followed by residents.
Further, Assam chief secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna said that the administration is looking to make sure that food and civil supply is running smoothly. They have also appealed to the people not to hoard items as all essential items will continue to remain available during the lockdown period.
It is to be mentioned that the disaster management act has also been invoked in the state. The DGP also mentioned that the police is trying its best to control the lockdown.
Additionally, the chief secretary on Wednesday March 25 said that Assam has enough food stock for the next three months and assured that there is no need to panic.
Addressing a press meet, he said, “A total of 3.90 lakh tonne of rice in Assam is enough for the next three months and more stock is coming.”
He added that grocery shops allowed to remain open which will stock vegetables and dairy. Further sources have been notified to maintain supply.
The chief secretary said that DCs have been asked to make sure that essential supplies are distributed in areas with no grocery shops.
Currently, 500 tonnes of sugar, 10 metric tonnes of pulses is available, he added.
Assam DGP, Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta on Wednesday, March 25 said that during the lockdown period, all essential shop owners will have to carry valid ID cards.
While addressing a press meet, he said, “Those who are working in government offices must carry a letter from the office.”
He also urged people to act as responsible citizens, “Police will question people on roads, and those found to be lying, they will be charged as per law.”
Further, in order to facilitate the movement of persons in "exempted category" and to control the movement of unauthorized persons during the lockdown period, the Assam police has decided to issue identity cards to such persons.
If one belongs to any one of the exempted categories, they can approach the local police station/outpost for an "essential service pass".