The guidelines issued by the Government on relaxation of lockdown after 20th April within the parameters of safety precautions have brought relief to industry as well as workers and farmers. CII has suggested continued stringent lockdown in specified containment zones with rest of the identified hotspot districts to be open to economic activities with adequate safety measures.
CII has submitted detailed recommendations to the Government based on inputs received from industry members across the country. It has called for action on 5 key areas in advance of the implementation of the guidelines on 20 April. CII hopes that states would issue guidelines in accordance with those recommended by Ministry of Home Affairs and not take stricter measures.
One, red zone districts and containment zones need to be clearly identified and demarcated and industrial activities should be permitted in non-containment zones of red zone districts, if found safe. A list of red districts and containment zones may be published on a real-time basis for information of industry.
CII members have also pointed out that the Government needs to clarify that industrial operations permitted during the lockdown for essential items would continue to be permitted and that no further separate notifications from central/state government are required for their operations after 20 April.
Two, certain activities related to the sectors that have been opened up would also need to be permitted to ensure that operations continue smoothly. For example, automotive value chain including OEMs, components, retail and service workshops must also be included in the list of permitted industries. Agricultural inputs of fertilizers, pesticides and seeds have been opened up, and there is need to also relax rules for production of necessary equipment.
Similarly, equipment and services for generation, transmission and distribution of power, including renewable energy such as gear boxes and generators may be allowed to function.
Three, shifts, transportation and stay of workers, social distancing and strength of workforce needs greater clarity and redefinition in some cases. Two shifts may be permitted for industries allowed to function, especially for essential items. In continuous operation plants, it is not possible to have a 1-hour gap between shifts and instead workers may start work on a staggered basis.
Stay of workers in large factories within the premises may not be possible to arrange at short notice and nearby facilities should be allowed to be used. Further, personal vehicles of employees in all industries opened up may be permitted to ply during the lockdown.
The guidelines have suggested 50% of workforce to operate to begin with in plantations and IT and IT enabled Services. This could be done on a self-certification basis. Moreover, in certain cases, if adequate social distancing norms are maintained, then more than 50% strength could be permitted.
Four, model guidelines should be notified for industrial areas, MSMEs, rural areas, etc. The list of industries and industrial establishments allowed to operate needs clarification in certain cases. For example, units manufacturing for exports but not in SEZ or Export Oriented Units category should be allowed to operate.
Finally, larger manufacturing plants should not be subject to complete closure on detection of a Covid-19 positive case in one part of the plant. A detailed protocol should be followed in case of such eventuality to identify and isolate contact persons.