After 27 days of work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials of the ranks of deputy secretaries and higher returned to duty on Monday (April 20), marginally increasing the attendance at central government offices.
Many officers and support staff found it difficult to come to offices as public transport like metro, buses and taxis were unavailable. Those with personal vehicles joined the work in the morning, officials said.
In its revised guidelines on the lockdown, the Home Ministry on April 15 said all ministries, departments and offices under its control would function with 100 per cent attendance of deputy secretary and the levels above that. It said the remaining officers and staff would attend up to 33 per cent as per requirement.
Joint secretaries, additional secretaries, special secretaries and secretaries had joined on April 13. All central government departments have been working with skeletal staff who will work on a rotation basis and in staggered shifts.
According to the revised guidelines, all workplaces shall have adequate arrangements for temperature screening and provide sanitisers at convenient places. “Persons above 65 years, those with co-morbidities and parents of children below the age of 5 may be encouraged to work from home,” the Home Ministry had said.
All workplaces must have a gap of one hour between shifts and should stagger the lunch breaks of staff to ensure social distancing, it instructed.
“All organisations shall sanitise their workplaces between shifts and large meetings to be prohibited,” the guidelines said, adding that the use of Arogya setu app will be encouraged for all employees, both private and public. “Use of the staircase for climbing should be encouraged,” it said.
Besides these, defence, Central Armed Police Forces, Health and Family Welfare, disaster management and early warning agencies, National Informatics Centre, Food Corporation of India, NCC, Nehru Yuva Kendras and customs to function without any restrictions, it said.
With respect to offices of the state and union territories, the Home Ministry has asked district administrations and treasury, including field offices of the accountant general, to function with restricted staff. “However, delivery of public services shall be ensured, and necessary staff will be deployed for such states,” it said.
All other departments of state and UTs will work with restricted staff, the guidelines said.
“Group A and B officers may attend as required. Group C and levels below that may attend up to 33 per cent of strength, as per requirement to ensure social distancing,” it said.
Police, home guards, civil defence, fire and emergency services, disaster management, prisons and municipal services will function without any restrictions, the guidelines said.
“Resident Commissioner of states/UTs in New Delhi will remain open only to the extent of coordinating COVID-19 related activities and internal kitchen operations,” it added.
(With inputs from agencies)