As per the latest lockdown guidelines announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday, the resumption of several prohibited activities in a phased manner in areas outside containment zones has been allowed.
One significant feature of the latest guidelines- titled "Unlock 1 : Guidelines for Phased Re-opening" - is that the Centre has allowed unrestricted inter-state and intra-state movement of persons, without requirement of travel passes.
"There will be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/approval/e-permit will be required for such movements", read the order.
At the same time, the Centre has given States the option to impose such restrictions, if they feel it necessary based on assessment of local situation. However, the States have to give wide publicity in advance about such restrictions.
"However, if a state/union territory, based on reasons of public health and its assessment of the situation, proposes to regulate movement of persons, it will give wide publicity in advance regarding the restrictions to be placed on such movement and the related procedures to be followed," reads the order.
It was on April 29 that the Centre first allowed inter-state movement of persons after the declaration of nationwide lockdown on March 24. However, that permission was only for migrant workers, students, pilgrims, tourists etc who got stranded at different places on account of the lockdown. As per the Standard Operation Procedure issued by the MHA then, the person had to obtain passes from both the host state and the destination state to embark on inter-state travel.
There was a case in the High Court of Kerala seeking to allow persons who got stranded at Kerala-Karnataka border due to lack of travel permit from the Kerala Government. While allowing their entry as a one-time measure on humanitarian grounds, the Kerala HC on May 10 stressed that the SOP has to be strictly followed for inter-state movement.
The MHA order further stated that the movement of special categories of persons including passenger trains, shramik trains, domestic and international air travel will continue to be regulated by standard operating procedures issued in advance.
"Movement by passenger trains and Shramik special trains, domestic air passenger travel, movement of Indian nationals stranded outside the country and of specified persons to travel abroad, evacuation of foregin nationals, and sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers will continue to be regulated as per SOPs issued," reads the order.
The order further states that no State/UT will stop the the movement of goods and cargo for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighboring countries.