THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC AND THE QUARANTINE: Economic, Social and Cultural, and Legal Aspects.
Author: Upasana Chopra
Co-Author: Nisarg Trivedi
BENNETT UNIVERSITY, GREATER NOIDA
The Coronavirus pandemic or COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and has become the greatest challenge we have faced since World War II. The emergence of the COVID-19 virus has spread all around the world. Being such a dangerous disease, countries all around the world are trying their level best to slow down the spread of the virus by proper treating and testing patients, by imposing a limitation on carrying out contacting people, limiting traveling of people, quarantining citizens inside their homes, and also canceling large scale gatherings and events such as sporting events, concerts, and schools.
The COVID-19 pandemic moving like a wave, it crashes on those who are least able to cope up. Coronavirus pandemic is much wider than the health crisis. By spreading so quickly everyone it touches, it is most likely to have a devastating impact on an economic, social and cultural, and legal crisis that will leave deep scars in the life of the people. Today, all of us are in uncharted territory. People are forced to stay in their homes because of which people are losing their income and jobs on an everyday basis, with no way of knowing when the normal situation will return. Further, stock markets and the travel and tourism industry has been badly affected thus making the economy going down. People in the world`s greatest cities are forced to stay inside their houses, either by their own choice or by the order given by the government. The COVID-19 situation leads to the closure of the shops, theatres, restaurants, and bars. The outbreak of COVID-19 is blamed for rising prices and shortage in the food supply, affecting the social life of the people. The situation has also caused many legal problems in the country, stating that only important issues will be addressed in the court. Thus, the Coronavirus, COVID-19 situation has affected the whole world.
Coronavirus or COVID-19 is an infectious disease which is caused by a newly discovered virus. Coronavirus being a communicable disease, small size cell can kill billions of people together. it has forced people to go into the lockdown for months. The whole world, including the lives of people, has become standstill. The country is not finding any solution to control this dangerous pandemic, COVID-19. People infected with Coronavirus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and this disease is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV2). On 1 December 2019, the outburst of COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan city, China. According to the reports released by the World Health Organisation on 30 January 2020, it showed the outburst to be a Public Health Emergency and perceive this outburst as a pandemic. Experts suggested that the spread of Coronavirus to be higher as India has lower testing rates.
The spread of Coronavirus, COVID-19 has been reported in 185 countries and territories, and about 3.12 million cases have been reported and around 217K deaths have been caused. As per the provisions of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, all the commercial places and educational institutions have been shut down. On 22 March, India notices curfew on the mention of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Due to the increase in case, Prime Minister instructed a Nationwide Lockdown. The lockdown created a huge effect on informal workers, micro and small enterprises, framers and self-employed, people who are left with no live-in absence of access to markets, etc.
The World Health Organisation said that being a communicable disease, the virus spreads through close contact between the people, by the way of small droplets produced by sneezing and coughing. These droplets fall onto the objects can hang into the air for a longer period. Infection can also spread by touching a contaminated surface and then rubbing their eyes, mouth, or nose. In the experiment, it has been found that the virus can survive on the surface up to 72 hours. Common symptoms of Coronavirus include shortness of breath, cough, and fever. It mainly affects the respiratory organs. Till now there is no specific treatment or vaccine to control this disease.
The only way to prevent this disease, COVID-19 includes covering one`s mouth when coughing, maintaining distance from other people, regularly washing your hands, and monitoring and self-isolation for the people who are found to be affected. People are not allowed to go to their favourite place and are asked to stay at home. Also, authorities worldwide have taken several steps by implementing travel restrictions, curfews, quarantine, and stay at home order, facility closure, and workplace hazard controls. The government has also taken various measures to increase the testing capacity of the people and trace the location of infected persons. In the reports of Oxford COVID-19, Government Response Tracker said that the Indian Government has reported more actively as compared to other countries in controlling pandemic.
Effects of Coronavirus, COVID-19
The pandemic has resulted in global socioeconomic disturbance, including the greatest global recession in the economy. This pandemic has also led to the delay or dropping down of various events like religious, sporting, cultural, and political events. Further, it has also created food supply shortages, led to the closure of schools and universities all around the world thus affecting around 98.4 percent of student population all around the world. Due to exposure Coronavirus pandemic, people are forced to quarantine themselves and stay at home, The spread of the virus has affected the global economy all around the world and thus affecting the daily life of the people by the closure of the public spots like pubs, gyms, restaurants, hotels, and other essential shops. Thus, Coronavirus has affected India including the entire world by leaving economic, social, legal, and cultural effects.
Economic Aspect –
The Coronavirus or COVID-19 shake the entire economy of the country. It has created a ‘deep impact’ over the India Businesses, and the future coming jobs are at the high possibility that firms may reduce the manpower employed due to which the rate of unemployment will increase in India. On estimation of around 14 crores, people lost their employment. As India is trying to fight against the global pandemic, COVID-19, the economic activity of the country depends on three factors the period of lockdown, global recession, and change in consumer behavior. It has created obstruction in human lives and the global supply chain. Business activity in the foreign markets has also been reduced which shows a negative impact on the companies. The sectors which would be more affected because of COVID-19 include agriculture, drugs, auto, tourism, pharmaceuticals, electronic goods, civil aviation, and many others. It has been found that India`s core sector output shrinks 6.5%, making the worst performance till now. Also, the infrastructure industry grows only 0.6% against 4.4% last year. The lockdown in India would create a significant impact on the economy because of consumption which is considered as the largest component of GDP. Due to frail consumption by the household sector, it can lead to delay in investment which can affect the country’s growth. In 2020, the GDP growth is expected to be 1.9 percent only because the global economy has been affected. The majority of people living in the urban area consider banking and online home repairs as an important service during the lockdown period.
The people affected the most because of this pandemic are the people of the daily wage group. Many farmers who grow perishables also facing difficultly. Because of lockdown, many companies like UltraTech Cement, Aditya Birla Group, Bharat Forge, Tata Motors, and many more have reduced their operations. Crude oil production contracted 5.5%, natural gas 15.2%, fertilizers 11.9% during this pandemic. Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies have also slowed down their operations and focusing only on the supply of essential commodities. Defence companies have also suffered losses because of the pandemic. Stock Markets in India suffered the worst loss. Because of all this thing India is expected to lose over 32,000 crores each day. The healthcare center is facing a twin-burden – investing additional manpower, equipment, and other resources to ensure 100% safety in the hospital; and having a sharp drop in OP footfalls, elective surgeries, and international patients. The medical industry has taken a hit. The country imports various equipment, syringes, computed tomography from other countries. Due to this crisis going on throughout the world it becomes difficult for the industry to import resources from other countries.
Further, the travel industry is the most affected industry due to which economic development process is hampered especially for those countries whose development depends on the visit to tourism. The Indian Government has advised Indian travelers to avoid all non-essential traveling to other virus affected countries. All the current Visas are suspended expect only the visas related to important meetings. Also, Borrowers may face liquidity mismatches, and unable to pay their debts as and when they fall due. According to the Government, the Mangers should be thinking of how to recover the bad debts money whereas the government thinking that one creditor should not be given preference over others. This will create changes in the business system. The companies are affected in such a way that they need to depend on insurance for recovery.
On the other hand, Coronavirus also has a positive impact on the Indian Economy. The healthcare sector (private sector) during this epidemic situation has shown the upward level with the help of the government support, be it testing support, preparing isolation beds, or deploying protective equipment. The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. The same is the present case, the economy is going down due to this pandemic, due to which working of the whole country is affected but we are going on the future ways to overcome it. But after every Black Swan effect there comes an opportunity which leads to upgradation in the economy by generating employment opportunities.
In 2009, when there was a lack of employment opportunities, Garrett Camp introduced the concept of Uber cab, people with their private cars can become part of this company which leads to the generation of employment. Also, in 1928 brother Walt and Roy Disney introduced the world to Mickey Mouse. But in 1929, nearly 4-years great depression was getting started. Knowing that America needed a smile more than ever, and was able to navigate the challenges of depression, and started working with full strength right after the depression ended. The above examples show that after every recession in the economy there comes an opportunity which leads up-gradation in the economy.
Social and Cultural Aspect –
Due to COVID-19, the social life of people is also affected. The COVID-19 epidemic has come with difficult demographic times. The global pandemic COVID-19 has caused an enormous effect on the social life of the people. It has affected the day to day life of the individuals. The extensive damage to life, livelihood, damage to relationships and has caused great economic loss to the countries. Isolation measures, cancellation of mass events, quarantines, including the right to freedom of people, freedom of assembly under human right law has also been prohibited. The outbreak of Coronavirus is blamed for supply shortages and panic buying, leading the prices up to twenty times than normal prices. The outbreak and the increasing spread of COVID-19 pandemic have sent the shock waves around the global market. The pandemic has led to the closure of various public spots like pubs, restaurants, and less essential shops. The coronavirus lockdown has seen parks gates shut down, cafes shut down and gyms are no longer open, effecting the social life of the people all around the world.
It has also resulted in poverty all around the world. The Coronavirus pandemic has not only created a medical emergency but has also created an employment crisis all around the country. As per the reports released by the Press Trust of India, around 400 million people are at the risk of falling into poverty and it is expected to wipe out 195 million full-time jobs because of Coronavirus. The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected the informal sectors. The worst-case scenario is with employees who do not have a regular salary. Due to the closure of businesses it has resulted in a delay in paying workers’ salaries or wages because of which monthly income of workers got affected. For these workers, the outbreak of the virus is the loss of their livelihood.
The lockdown situation has created such a bad impact on middle-class people that due to a shortage of income and food supply they are transferred to poor category. Also, the hiring activities have declined by 18 percent as compared to the hiring activities in 2019, which has led to more unemployment in the country mostly affecting the cities like Delhi, Chennai, and Hyderabad. The situation of Coronavirus has not only stopped the people from fresh hiring but has also obstructed many other people to work, who work on profit-margins. Based on the data provided by the National Sample Survey (NSS) and Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS), about 136 million non-agriculture jobs are at risk. The people falling in this bracket are daily-wage earners or casual labourers. It has further said that nine million jobs are reduced in manufacturing areas like in the textile industry, capital goods, food products, etc. The present situation has adversely affected the migrants, who do not have enough resources to sustain their livelihood.
On the other hand, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the lives of high school students. All the schools and universities are closed due to this pandemic further affecting the examination system of the educational institutions. The people living in the Urban area have easy accessibility to the internet as to continue with their education but the areas like Jammu and Kashmir where the internet connectivity is not proper or children who do not have access to online education, their right to education are affected.
Despite all these difficulties faced by people, the government is providing some forms of remedy. The Union Finance & Corporate Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman announced a 1.70 lakh crore package under pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana to to help them to fight against the battle of COVID-19. The government also decided to pay 2000/- in April to farmers under PM Kissan Yojana and this will cover around 8.7crore farmers. The overall situation shows that people seem happy with the availability of essential items in the lockdown, where 76% of people are saying that they are satisfied with the services.
Apart from economic and social impact, the situation of COVID-19 also has a legal impact on society. COVID-19 has affected all three organs of the state namely, Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary. The Supreme Court has announced that from 16 March 2020, it will be hearing only important matters. The SC has also directed that the lawyers acting on the matters for making the arguments, along with one litigant will be allowed in the courtroom. The Bombay High Court, Delhi High court, Karnataka High Court also announced the same restrictions. The courts have also asked for a potential thermal screening of people visiting the court. The government has also suspended all the visas except visas of diplomatic, project visas. All the foreigners already staying in India, visas will remain valid and they are advised to connect to the nearest FRO for extension of their visas. Also, any citizen visiting India will need a certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19. And all the travelers coming from other countries need to be quarantined for 14 days. They should self-monitor and do`s and don`ts as given by the government.
The Government of India issued several advisories related to COVID-19 pandemic. On 11 March 2020, the Indian Government issued an order under Section 69 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 giving its power under Section 10 of this act to Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Further, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare advised the people to avoid public gatherings. Also, under the Epidemic Disease Act,1897, enacted to provide for better protection of the spread of disease, the central and state government are to take certain actions to control the outbreak of this dangerous epidemic. Several states have issued advisories to control COVID-19, invoking provisions of the epidemic Disease Act, 1897. All hospitals should have separate areas for treating the people suspected COVID-19 and hospitals are required to record the history of the travel plan of the person where COVID-19 was reported. Information on all the reported cases should be given to local municipal commissioner immediately. Special quarantine measures need to be taken. Also, the order has been passed that no press media will print the information related to COVID-19 without permission of the Department of Health and Welfare, if found will be treated as punishable offence under COVID-19 regulations. If any person found violating the provisions of COVID-19 Regulations will be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, which penalises disobedience of order announced by a public servant.
Also, the disruption in the supply chain has legal implications, the performance of many contracts will be delayed, interrupted, or cancelled because COVID-19 has legitimately prevented the people from performing their contractual obligation. On the other hand, companies are not able to perform their obligations under customer agreements because of their suppliers` non-performance. Force majeure, in section 32 and 56 on the Indian Contract Act, 1872, protects the party from liability for its failure to perform a contractual obligation. It is an exception to what would otherwise amount to a breach of contract. The court would check whether COVID-19 prevented the party to perform its contractual obligation.
India has invoked powers under the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 to control COVID-19. The objective of this act was to prevent the spread of the dangerous pandemic. Any person who disobeys any regulation passed under this law shall be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. Under this section a person does not need to intent to produce any harm, disobedience is sufficient. On 11 March, the Cabinet Secretary of India enforced Section 2 of Epidemic Disease Act in all states and Union Territories to control the COVID-19 pandemic. It empowers the state to take some special steps and make some special provisions.
Also, some laws are prevailing under which people can be prosecuted to protect the health and safety of others. In India, misconduct to quarantine rule is punishable under Section 271 of the Indian Penal Code with imprisonment or fine, or both. Also, failure to take proper precautions after knowing the outbreak of disease is punishable under Section 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code. Disobedience of norms like social distancing, coughing without covering nose and mouth, loitering on street in a group, etc. are all punishable under Section 270 of the Indian Penal Code. The application of these laws was to control the spread of this infectious disease.
The Supreme Court of India, in the case Municipal Council Ratlam V. Vardichand, has given its interpretation in the matter of public health safety, decency, convenience by connecting Section 268 and 188 of the Indian Penal Code with Section 133 of CRPC. As per the courts, such a proposition is justified under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. Besides these provisions, the procedural rigours of Section 133 of CRPC are more unconditional, although it reads voluntarily. The important tone of Section 133 of CRPC read with the disciplinary mode of Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code makes the preventive act as an obligatory duty. The judgement illustrates the modification of seemingly dull legislation into powerful legislation to protect the citizens from epidemic and different pandemics. It is quite regrettable to note that despite its vast perspective, the judgement remains underutilised. The penultimate analysis of the colonial law and its technological interpretation seems highly relevant in the wake of the current lock-down situation.
Hence, it can be concluded that the Coronavirus or COVID-19 being the communicable disease is an extremely dangerous disease and is conquering the whole world. COVID-19 has created such a bad effect on the country that people all around the world, are forced to go into the lockdown situation for months. The whole country including the lives of people have become have been affected. Till now, the government of the country has found no solution to control the spread of COVID-19 and by this time its spread has been noted in 185 countries and territories. Being a communicable disease, the virus spreads quickly through close contact between the people. Government authorities around the world have taken several measures to control the spread of the disease like by implementing travel restrictions, quarantine and stay home order, curfews, facility closure, and workplace hazard controls. on the other hand, the government authorities have also increased the testing capacity of the people and have installed the various equipment to trace the area of infected people.
The Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has created a global socio-economic disturbance all around the world. The pandemic has led to delay in various events like sporting, religion, culture, and various other political events. The COVID-19 virus has also affected the economy all around the world by creating the situation of unemployment in the world further creating the problem of recession in the country. All the incoming flights and outgoing flights have been suspended for a while, affecting the trading relations with the other countries. People are forced to quarantine themselves which resulted in the cancellation of their social outings. Strict rules have been passed by the Courts and the government related to COVID-19 situation and anyone violating these provisions set out by the government officials shall be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. The only option left with people is social distancing and staying at their homes. Only some form of God`s power or any other form of magic could the world from this deadly pandemic.
 The National Sample Survey (NSS) is one of the oldest continuing household sample surveys in the developing world. The survey is conducted on a regular basis by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), India’s premier data collection agency.
 The PLFS has been launched with an objective of measuring quarterly changes of various labour market statistical indicators in urban areas as well as generating annual estimates of these indicators both for rural and urban areas, which can be used for policy making.
 The Disaster Management Act, 2005 has been enacted as the central Act to deal with the management of disasters. This act envisaged a three tier Disaster Management structure in India at National, States and District levels. Under the act, the NDMA, SDMA, NEC, NDRF, NIDM and disaster related funds were established. Here, Section 69 talks about Delegation of powers
 The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 is a law which was first enacted to tackle bubonic plague in Mumbai in former British India. The law is meant for containment of epidemics by providing special powers that are required for the implementation of containment measures to control the spread of the disease.
 Section 188 talks about Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant
 Disobedience to quarantine rule.—Whoever knowingly disobeys any rule made and promulgated 1[by the 2[***] Government 3[***] for putting any vessel into a state of quarantine, or for regulating the intercourse of vessels in a state of quarantine with the shore or with other vessels, or for regulating the intercourse between places where an infectious disease prevails and other places, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.
 Municipal Council Ratlam V. Vardichand, 1981 SCR (1) 97