RE-OPENING YOUR BUSINESS AFTER THE LOCKDOWN: HOW TO “UNLOCK”?
On May 30, 2020, the central government announced a plan for a
phased re-opening of the country, propagating the approach that to preserve the
economy, we must learn to live with the coronavirus for the time being. A large
number of sectors have finally been given permission to open up for the first
time since the lockdown. This article discusses which business located where
can reopen, the measures they must take for safe operations, and the extent of
Will I be able to open my business in Unlock 1?
As per the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Order dated May 30, 2020
[Govt. of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A)]
(hereinafter “MHA Order”), whether a business can reopen will depend on two
things, firstly, the zone it is located in, and secondly, under which
sector/type of business it falls.
Location: In areas
outside the containment zone, all activities are permitted except the ones
falling under sectors for which a starting date has been announced in the MHA
Order. Therefore, so long as your business is not inside a containment zone,
irrespective of it being in the red, orange or green zone, it can be opened as
long as it is not listed as impermissible to a certain date.
Sector: All types
of activities have been permitted except for the following ones which can only
be started from a particular date:
2020 Onwards - The following will be permitted to reopen from
Religious places/ places of worship for public
Hotels, Restaurants and Other Hospitality Services
Standard operating Procedure will be notified in due time for
the reopening of these places.
2020 - A decision will be taken as to the date of reopening in July of
schools, colleges, coach and training centers, in consultation with the state
governments, and a Standard Operating procedure will be notified for a safe
date of resumption - The MHA has not given a date for
the resumption of the following activities, however the fact that they are on
the list means that the government will eventually try and finalize a date for
International air travel
Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks,
theaters, bars, assembly halls, auditoriums and such other places of
religious functions or other large congregations.
so long as your business is not on the list of businesses/activities to be
resumed at a later date as per the Order, it can be reopened if it is not in a
What mandatory steps will I have to follow relating to COVID-management
after reopening my office/workplace?
The MHA Order gives a series of precautions that all people must
follow, but also gives certain specifications for workplace.
Compulsory face covering in public places, transport and
A minimum distance of 6 feet between individuals
Large gatherings are prohibited
Spitting in public is a punishable offense
Consumption of alcohol and tobacco in public places is
PRECAUTIONS FOR THE WORKPLACE
Work from home should be continued as far as
Staggering of working hours to not
have all employees at the work place at the same time
Provisions for thermal scanning and
sanitization to be made available at all entry and exit
Frequent sanitization of the entire workplace,
particularly common areas where objects come in human contact, such as door
handles, railings, etc.
Annexure I, MHA Order]
of workplace will require that employee comply with all of the above guidelines
diligently to ensure safety and efficiency at the workplace.
What is the procedure for resumption of manufacturing in plants?
The resumption of manufacturing in industrial units, at present,
is to be governed by an earlier communication by the MHA to the States
regarding the process issues on May 9, 2020 [MHA Communication No.
1-137/2020/Mit II]. The guidelines suggest a precautionary approach in the
initial weeks of operation because machinery and equipment will not have been
used for a while, and may require servicing.
The communication directs that employees must be trained to
notice abnormal sounds and smells which may indicate a leak, exposed wires,
wobbly machinery, and other such signs which could indicate a need for
maintenance or possible shut down of the unit for the period of fixing
machinery. All equipment must be inspected for safety at the time of reopening.
There are specific steps to be followed for safe storage and
manufacturing in factories which include checking storage for wear and tear and
spills during lockdown, checking for oxidation in open stored goods, checking
HAZMAT chemicals for safety before use, and carrying out a safety audit of the
entire unit before restarting.
[For full details, see complete guidelines at:]
In addition, there are certain specific precautions to
be taken for the prevention of spread of COVID-19 in manufacturing units:
1. Ensure 24 -hour sanitisation of the factory premises
2. Entrance health checks
Temperature checks of all employees to be done twice a day.
Workers showing symptoms should not report to work.
3. Provisions of hand sanitisers and mask to all employers. a.
Providing gloves, masks and hand sanitisers to be done at all factories and
4. COVID 19 health and prevention staff education
Education on safety steps to take from entry to exit in the
Measures to take precautions at personal level
5. Quarantine measures for supply and storage of goods
Sterilise boxes and wrapping brought into factory premises
Isolate and sanitise finished goods as appropriate
Delivery of goods in shifts
6. Physical distancing measures
Create physical barriers to ensure the physical distance within
the work floor and dining facilities
Provide face protection shields along with masks and PPEs.
7. Working in shifts
Factories that work 24 hours at full production capacity should
consider one hour gap
between shifts, except factories/plants requiring continuous operations.
Managerial and administrative staff should work one shift at 33
per cent capacity as per MHA guidelines; but while deciding which particular
person to be included in 33% at any given point of time, overriding priority
should be given to personnel dealing with safety.
Ensure no sharing of tools or workstations to the extent
possible. Provide additional sets of tools if needed.
8. Scenario plan on discovering a positive case
Factories have to prepare accommodation to isolate workers, if
HR has to help manage the whole process for individual, all
travelling employees also to undergo a mandatory14-day quarantine
9. Presence of skilled workers Workers involved in dealing with
hazardous material must be skilled and experienced in the field. No compromise
on deployment of such workers should be permitted when an industrial unit is
the reopening of manufacturing units will require certain extra precautions and
safety methods to be adopted, which have been provided in detail by the central
government and are being enforced by the states. In case your industry is
having difficulty in managing crucial backward linkages that may be critical
for their safe functioning, they should approach the local district
administration for specific assistance, which will be provided.