India goes under lockdown for 21 days over coronavirus outbreak -- what we know so far
Photo: Narendra Modi/YouTube video screengrab

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a pan-India complete lock-down that would last for three weeks.

Speaking via video, the Prime Minister urged everyone to remain confined to their homes -- almost as though there was a lakshman rekha drawn outside.

Social distancing, he said, was our only hope of fighting this virus.

But what does this lock-down mean for the people of India? What will be availble for the next 21 days?

According to a tweet posted by the Prime Minister, "essential commodities, medicines etc. would be available".

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, offices will remain closed. The exceptions to this rule are offices belonging to departments such as defence, central armed police forces, treasury, public utilities, fire and emergency services, disaster management, electricity, water, sanitation, prisons, post offices etc.

Shops selling raw food items will remain open, as will banking and insurance offices and ATMs. The media -- both print and electronic -- would be in operation as would telecommunication and internet services.

Throughout the country, people had been urged for some time now to work remotely and socially distance themselves. Speaking on Tuesday Modi added that people should confine themselves to their homes and even socially distance themselves from each other within a residence as this was the only way India could fight and eventually overcome the virus.

The Prime Minister on Tuesday called this nationwide lockdown a 'curfew' of sorts. During this, it is safe to assume, only essential services would be running. Incidentally, the Prime Minister also asked people to pray for those risking their lives even as they work on the frontlines to combat the virus. This included, medical staff, sanitation workers, the media, amongst others.

Travel facilities have been severely curtailed in recent times. The Indian Railways had stopped all passenger trains, and starting from Wednesday, at 12 am, all domestic flights would cease as well. With people being discouraged from commuting, it is likely that special vehicles would be run to ferry essential service personnel.All road transport services will remain suspended, unless they are transporting essential goods or working for fire, law and order and emergency services, the MHA said.

Petrol pumps, LPG, Petroleum and gas retail and storage outlets would also remain open.

Hospitality services too have been curtailed, with only hotels, lodges etc that are being used for quarantine, or is accommodating tourists and those stranded by the lockdown, officials and medical staff.

During the state lockdowns, such as in Maharashtra, places of worship, shops, commercial establishments and other officers had been shut, unless they were engaged in producing essential items. This will continue in a pan-India basis now. Public spaces such as theatres, parks, gyms, swimming pools and more were among the first locales to be closed.

Speaking about the underprivileged sections of society, the Prime Minister assured that the Centre was working with State governments as well as the local administration and civil societies to reduce the difficulties that the poor would face.

During his address, the Prime Minister urged states to focus on healthcare and also announced that the Centre was allocating funds to help improve medical facilities.

"Central govt has made an allocation of Rs 15,000 crore for strengthening the health infrastructure in the country. We will be able to increase the number of testing facilities, personal protection equipment, isolation wards, ICU beds and more essentials using these funds, the Prime Minister said.

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