India will begin the world’s largest lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a TV address Tuesday night, warning that anyone going outside risked inviting the CCP virus inside their homes, and pledging $2 billion to bolster the country’s beleaguered health care system.
“To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes,” Modi said, adding that if the country failed to manage the next 21 days, it could be set back by 21 years.
India’s stay-at-home order puts nearly one-fifth of the world’s population under lockdown.
According to the guidelines issued by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, all commercial and private establishments, industrial establishments, and all educational, training, and research institutions will be closed.
Most transportation services except those for essential goods and medical personnel will be suspended.
All places of worship are also ordered to close and all religious gatherings were banned without exception.
The decrees also mandated all federal and state government to be closed. The military, police, electricity and other utility sectors will stay open.
To ensure the decrees are followed, the Indian authorities will assign incident commanders to local jurisdictions to implement the lockdown and issue passes for essential movements.
Anyone who obstructs the order will be punishable by up to one year in prison under the 2005 Disaster Management Act (pdf), the ministry said.
The lockdown will be effective from Tuesday, March 24.
Modi affirmed the public to remain calm during the outbreak.
“There is absolutely no need to panic,” he said in a Twitter post. “Essential commodities, medicines etc. would be available. Centre and various state governments will work in close coordination to ensure this.”
He also urged the Indians to stay away from panic buying.
Indian health officials have reported 469 active cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and 10 deaths. Officials have repeatedly insisted there is no evidence yet of communal spread but have conducted relatively scant testing for the disease.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
In recent days, India has been gradually expanding stay-at-home orders and has banned international and domestic flights and suspended passenger service on its extensive rail system.
Essential service providers, including hospitals, police, and media had been exempted from the stay-in-place orders, and many grocery stores and pharmacies remained open.
Modi called Tuesday’s order a “total lockdown” and did not address whether any service providers would be exempt, but said that “all steps have been taken by central and state government to ensure supply of essential items.”
The Associated Press and Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.