In a communication to chief secretaries and DGPs of all states, the Union Home Ministry said all states and UTs should actively enforce social distancing and isolation for COVID-19 through lockdown and prohibitory measures with exemptions for supply chain and transportation of essential goods and services in and out of the state.
The ministry said while it was imperative to successfully implement the notified lockdown/restrictions, it was also necessary to ensure the unhindered operations of manufacturing, processing, transportation, distribution, storage, trade/commerce and logistics related to all services/establishments and commodities required for the delivery of essential services, which have been exempted under the various prohibitory orders.
“In order to ensure that these provisions are seamlessly available at ground level it would be necessary for each State/UT to set-up a 24×7 control room/office with helplines (at state/ district level) to address any grievance or undue problems faced by the providers of goods/ services including during inter-state movement,” the communication said.
The ministry said a nodal officer may be appointed in a state to coordinate with the district administration/police in this matter. This is necessary to ensure continuity of supply chain for essential commodities, several of which may be of perishable nature
It may also be necessary to lay down a standard operating protocol for unhindered operation of essential services/establishments and commodities, including appointment of nodal officers at inter-state borders, issue of vehicular passes etc.
The ministry said state helpline facilities may be also made available to ensure adequate protection to essential service providers, government or PSU employees/ healthcare workers engaged in providing essential services or requisitioned for administrative exigencies in each state/UT from any unwanted stigmatisation by any local person on any grounds, including their working in an exposed environment (like hospitals, public facilities, essential service facilities etc).
“In view of the above, it is accordingly requested to issue suitable directions to set up a nodal control room/office with helplines in the state and appoint a nodal officer immediately,” it said. The details of such helpline numbers may be given wide publicity in the state/UT concerned, the ministry said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown across the country on Tuesday to combat the coronavirus pandemic.