With the cases of the coronavirus swelling in the country, the government on Monday prohibited entry of passengers from European Union countries, Turkey and the United Kingdom from March 18 till March 31.
The Union health ministry also said four new coronavirus cases -- one each from Odisha, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and Kerala, have been reported, taking the total number of cases to 114 on Monday. These cases include 10 discharged, three cured and two deaths.
The 'contact tracing activity' of these positive cases has led to identification of more than 5,200 contacts, who are kept under rigorous surveillance, health ministry officials said.
After a meeting of the Group of Ministers on coronavirus, the government has proposed a set of social distancing measures to be in force till March 31, the officials told reporters.
"Travel of passengers from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and United Kingdom to India is prohibited with effect from 18th March 2020," said Lav Aggarwal, the Joint Secretary in the ministry, said.
"No airline shall board a passenger from these nations to India with effect from 1200 GMT on March 18 2020. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure," he said.
Both these instructions are temporary measures and shall be in force till March 31 2020 and will be reviewed subsequently, he said.
The Group of Ministers held their seventh meeting on Monday and after detailed deliberations social distancing measures as a preventive strategy has been proposed for implementation, Aggarwal said, adding that these interventions are proposed to be in force till March 31.
The key measures proposed include closure of all educational institutions -- schools, colleges and universities -- gyms, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres, he said.
Students should be advised to stay at home and online education should be promoted, Aggarwal said.
"Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, trains and aeroplanes should maximise social distancing in public transport, besides ensuring proper disinfection of services," he said.
Restaurants should ensure handwashing protocol and proper cleanliness of frequently touched surfaces, the official said.
The restaurants should also ensure physical distancing minimum 1 metre between tables and encourage open air seating where practical with adequate distancing, Aggarwal said.
The government has urged local authorities to have a dialogue with organisers of sporting events and competitions involving large gatherings and they may be advised to postpone such events, he said.
It has also proposed that local authorities should have a dialogue with opinion leaders and religious leaders to regulate mass gatherings and ensure no overcrowding.
"Local authorities should have a meeting with traders associations and other stakeholders to regulate hours, regulate do's and don'ts...and take up a communication drive in market places like sabzi mandi, anaj mandi, bus depots , railway stations, post-offices etc., where essential services are provided," Aggarwal said.
Private sector organisations and employers are being encouraged to allow employees to work from home wherever feasible, he said.
The government has also called for meetings, as far as feasible, to be held through video-conferences.
Minimise or reschedule meetings involving a large number of people unless necessary, Aggarwal said.
Aggarwal said travel restrictions have been further tightened to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from high-risk areas.
The government has also called for compulsory quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days for passengers coming from or transiting through the UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait. This measure will also come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 18, 2020 at the port of first departure.