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Center, states took multiple legislative steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in 2020: Report | India News

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NEW DELHI: The Center and state governments took multiple legislative steps in 2020 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, according to a report by an expert group.
The central government invoked the Disaster Management Act of 2005 to assume primary responsibilities for addressing the pandemic.
State governments amended the central law, the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 (as applied to their respective states), or prescribed temporary regulations under the 1897 law.
The Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 provides for the prevention of the spread of dangerous epidemic diseases in the country. The law empowers states to take special measures to prevent the outbreak and spread of epidemic diseases.
Several states, including Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Punjab, and Telangana, issued Covid-19 regulations to prevent the spread of the virus, PRS Legislative Research said in its annual review of state laws, 2020.
Some states such as Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh enacted various ordinances for the prevention and control of epidemic diseases in their respective states.
These ordinances were amending or replacing the Epidemic Disease Act of 1897 or the state’s own epidemic disease laws. These ordinances gave the respective state governments the power to report any disease as an epidemic disease in their states, the report noted.
They could also impose restrictions such as closure, traveler screening, closure of state lines, and suspension of public and private transportation to prevent the spread of the disease.
Penalties for breaking the rules were also increased. “For example, the Uttar Pradesh ordinance prescribed a punishment of one to three years in prison and a fine of 10,000 to 100,000 rupees for violating quarantine or isolation and for escaping from hospital during treatment,” the report says.
The impact of Covid-19 also extended to other areas of the legislation, he observed.
“For example, some states enacted laws to introduce changes to local government elections. Maharashtra enacted a law to postpone elections to the offices of mayor and deputy mayor of some municipal corporations.
“Kerala amended its panchayat and municipal laws to facilitate direct and postal voting for people affected by Covid-19 or those in quarantine,” the document observes.
Other legislative actions triggered by the pandemic included cutting legislators’ salaries to conserve financial resources.
The World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, he noted.



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