After two years of what has become an unprecedented experiment to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, India is all set to end the Covid-19 curbs and the containment measures in the midst of a sharp decrease in Covid cases. The Union Home Ministry has decided to end all the curbs from March 31. But, the Union government has said that some guidelines will continue to be in place.
As per its announcement, the people must adhere to the general guidelines of wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing. On March 24, 2020, the Indian government has announced a nationwide lockdown for the first time, under the Disaster Management Act 2005 for containing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. In the midst of several relaxations, the lockdown and containment measures haven't been fully lifted across the country.
The lockdown was extended as per the spread of the pandemic and the government has rolled out vaccination drives. After two years of imposing lockdown, India will now be released from the lockdown and containment measures. In an official communication to the Chief Secretaries of all states, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that over the last 24 months, significant capacities have been developed for various aspects of management of the pandemic, such as diagnostics, surveillance, contact tracing, treatment, vaccination, and hospital infrastructure.
Bhalla noted that the general public now has a much higher level of awareness of Covid's appropriate behaviour. He said that the states and Union Territories have also developed their own capacities and systems and implemented their detailed specific plans for managing the pandemic and added that over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases.
By citing that a total of 181.56 crore vaccine doses have been administered, Ajay Bhalla said that after taking into consideration the overall improvement in the situation and preparedness of the government to deal with the pandemic, National Disaster Management Authority has taken a decision that there may not be any further need to invoke the provisions of the Disaster Management Act for Covid-19 containment measures.
He highlighted that after the expiry of the existing order on March 31, no further order will be issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare advisories on Covid containment measures, including the use of face masks and hand hygiene, will continue to guide the overall national response to the pandemic.
He noted that in view of the nature of the disease, people still need to remain watchful of the situation. He said whenever any surge in the number of cases is observed, states and UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at the local level, as advised by the Ministry of Health from time to time. Bhalla further said, "I would, therefore, advise all the states and UTs to consider appropriately discontinuing the issue of orders and guidelines under the DM Act, 2005, for Covid containment measures."