A calibrated and safe exit from the lockdown, subject, of course, to considerations being given to the geographical spread of COVID in the country, would be a practical approach. This is an evolving situation and therefore, we should be open to alter our approach as we go along.
Given that the number of cases has rapidly increased and hotspots have emerged in the country over the last few days, and that the opening up across the country would need to be slow and staggered, it would be desirable to have three classifications of geographies as red, amber and green, based on the incidence of COVID cases. The principle should be that we look at opening up in concentric circles around the red zones. The radiating heat map should turn from red in the inside to green on the outside. In other words, “Lock inside out” should be the model.
A more complex point is whether all industries can open in the green zones and which ones should open in the amber zone, assuming that none would be operational in the red zones other than essential and exempt services.
The point to stress is that all facilities that reopen must have requisite health, sanitation and screening systems in place to protect workers. Various measures have been suggested such as thermal check, social distancing, factory sanitisation and so on. Any enterprise which does not comply with this on a self-certification basis should be subject to stringent penalties.
However, prior to the lifting of the lockdown, there has to be adequate notice given to all and along with that there should be announcement of an economic package.
Prioritisation of industrial sectors is essential for restart to gain from the control measures employed to reduce the spread of the pandemic while minimising the economic impact of the lockdown affecting exports, livelihoods and jobs.
To plan the restart of industry operations post COVID-19, CII has looked into the Health, Social and Economic impact of lockdown to arrive at the prioritisation of the industry sectors. CII has used four key indicators for prioritisation of sectors for restart. These include sectors that are part of and support the essential goods and services ecosystem, labour intensive sectors that support jobs and livelihoods, sectors that are essential for protecting India’s export market share and gain the confidence of global markets besides sectors that will help us manage our imports to a minimum based on essential requirements for further production and export.
Textiles and apparels, 100% operationalising pharmaceuticals sector, food processing, minerals and metal besides, ecommerce, automobiles and chemicals are the key sectors that have been suggested for restart among the industrial sectors that need to restart operations in a calibrated manner.
The CII report, Exit from the Lockdown, has suggested a stagewise and zone wise restart of industrial operations to, meet all essential needs of the economy, ensure protection of livelihoods and jobs, protect export market shares and meet export obligations besides helping manage the import dependence of the economy.
Stage I opening of sector, according to the CII report, include 100% Pharmaceuticals manufacturing, Textiles and Apparels, Food Processing and Minerals & metals. Stage II would entail opening with a gap of one or two weeks after the first stage sectors start their operations and includes Agri Market operations, Ecommerce including food and groceries delivery, Automobiles, Chemicals especially those used for sanitation and other healthcare purposes and those that support pharmaceuticals and other essential sectors. Stage III could be the remaining sectors after one or two weeks after the second stage sectors start operations.
Sectors that fall into green and amber zones are based on the levels of labour intensity of the sectors. Green zone sectors are those which are less labour intensive while sectors that fall into amber zone are labour intensive. These sectors are recommended to be opened in a calibrated manner while maintaining strong health, sanitation and social distancing protocols, the CII report said. The CII report outlines detailed sector wise protocols for maintaining health and sanitation and social distancing besides guidelines for maintaining the shop floors and other areas used by workers and employees in factories, warehouses, market yards and offices.