The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday evening refused to follow Allahabad High Court directions to lockdown five cities - Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Kanpur, Gorakhpur - from tonight till April 26 - in view of the rapid daily increase in coronavirus cases.
The state said it would not implement the order - needed, the court said, because the pandemic had "virtually incapacitated our medical infrastructure... specially in cities like Prayagraj, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur and Gorakhpur" - because it had to protect both lives and livelihoods.
Registering disapproval over the state's handling of the pandemic - UP recorded a record 30,000+ new cases in 24 hours this morning - the court issued a series of orders, including the suspension and closure of all religious activities and establishments, and the closure of all shopping malls.
The court also ordered all education institutions - across the entire state - to shut down as well.
All offices, whether government or private, were to be closed too, with exceptions for financial institutions, business offering medical or health services, industrial and scientific establishments, and those providing essential services such as municipal functions and public transport.
The High Court also suspended all social functions and gatherings, including those for marriage functions, for the duration of the lockdown.
Exceptions could be made, it said, for "already fixed marriages" pending permission from the concerned District Magistrate, whose decision was to be based on "prevailing COVID-19 situation" in the area. In such cases, and others as may be permitted, attendance will be limited to 25 people.
All other public movement on the roads will be "restricted", with only those experiencing medical emergencies allowed to travel, the court said.
Uttar Pradesh is one of the worst affected states in this second Covid wave; the state reported over 30,000 new cases this morning, taking its active caseload to over 1.91 lakh
Only Maharashtra - with more than 6.7 lakh active cases - has been more badly hit than UP.