With the number of coronavirus infections declining in the country, industry chamber FICCI has suggested the government to follow a graded approach in unlocking economic activities. The chamber has suggested opening up of economic activities depending upon the positivity rate of COVID-19 cases in that region or district. It has divided regions at four levels minimal risk, low risk, medium risk and high risk.
It has asked for opening e-commerce supplies for both essential and non-essential activities in all districts irrespective of the positivity rate, besides home delivery of alcoholic beverages, logistics, warehousing and all cargo movement.
“While certain categories of units such as those producing essential goods, export-oriented units, continuous process industries and those connected to national security can be permitted to operate at all times, they should be encouraged to create an isolation bubble for their workforce which reduces the risk of the virus spreading,” FICCI said.
For the services sector, it has recommended that all essential services such as banking, information technology services and communications should be restricted with 50 per cent manpower in areas of high positivity rate (over 10 per cent).
It added that any unit that is able to create an isolation bubble should be allowed to operate at all times even if it does not qualify as essential.
The chamber said the ferocity of the second wave highlighted that waiting also long to impose restrictions can result in a surge of cases thus putting immense strain on medical infrastructure. Learning from the first and second coronavirus waves, “FICCI suggests a graded approach to permissible economic activity which balances lives and livelihoods”, it said in a letter to Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.
It said there should be surveillance testing on a continuous basis, even if the number of cases comes down sharply. For example, at points of entry (airport, railway station), people should be randomly tested, FICCI added. It added that units which have vaccinated at least 60 per cent of the workforce with a single dose can be exempted from restrictions.
“High touch point non-essential sectors like leisure activities and retail, etc, will only be permitted in a minimal risk situation (level 1) total positivity rate below 2.5 per cent.
“This restriction will prevail until a significant part of the population has been vaccinated with at least one dose,” the chamber said.
For private sector offices, it has suggested not to allow these services in high risk areas except maintenance, security and critical infrastructure staff, who should be allowed. In medium- and low-risk regions, these services can be permitted with 33 per cent and 50 per cent staff, respectively.
For buses and metro, it stated that public transport could be opened up with a 50 per cent capacity minimal risk area, but not in other regions. Similarly cabs and three-wheelers with two passengers in minimal risk zone and with one passenger in low risk area.
Further, it has not suggested any opening up of universities, colleges and schools.
Regarding social gatherings, the chamber has recommended imposing a cap of 20 people for marriages (not at hotels and banquet halls) and funerals in all risk zones and continuous closure of religious places.