New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: As India entered the last week of the 40-day nationwide lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 27 told chief ministers that the country will have to give importance to economy as well as continue the fight against coronavirus, in a clear indication that strict restrictions could be limited to COVID-19 hotspots while curbs can be eased gradually in areas not affected by the virus.  

During the meeting, a majority of the chief ministers wanted the lockdown to continue after May 3 and told the prime minister that some economic activity should be started slowly. 

Several states have called for easing restrictions in non-hotspot and Green Zone areas which have not reported any fresh cases in the last many days. Meanwhile, calls continue to grow for curbs to continue in Red Zone areas.  

In the last interaction on April 11, several chief ministers had recommended extension of the 21-day lockdown by two weeks, which was slated to end on April 14 earlier. On April 14, the prime minister announced that the lockdown is being extended till May 3.

A meeting of group of ministers, headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, held deliberations on phased lifting of lockdown after May 3, but only in parts of India which are least affected by coronavirus.

The report quoted sources saying that while there is no talk of further extending the pan-India lockdown, public travel through trains, flights and buses may remain suspended while rules like social distancing and wearing face masks may be made compulsory for quite a long time.

While inter-state travelling may remain banned, travel within districts or cities is likely to be allowed after May 3.

The report suggested that any relaxation in restrictions of lockdown will be conditional and will only be allowed in Green Zones which have not seen any fresh case in the last 28 days.  

Restrictions are likely to continue in “hotspots” or areas falling under Red Zone due to the large number of coronavirus cases.  

In areas where restrictions will be eased, people may be allowed to step out of their homes, but only with masks and maintaining social distancing. Offices may also be allowed to function on the same principles.  

Shops selling essential items are likely to continue their operations while following social distancing norms. 

Meanwhile, social and religious gatherings, and weddings are unlikely to be allowed anytime soon as it may spark threat of resurgence in numbe of COVID-19 cases. Similarly, shopping malls, gyms and swimming pools too may not be allowed anytime soon. 

The government, focused on breaking the chain of COVID-19 transmission, is likely to evaluate the situation in different zones of the country. Mumbai, Delhi, Noida and Indore are among the areas that will be in focus post May 3 as the number of cases in these cities rise. 

Districts or cities contributing to more than 80 per cent of the cases in the country or the state are classified as hotspots (red zone). Places that show a high rate of infection -- doubling rate less than 4 days - are also be in this category.

Areas which have a limited number of cases in the past and have not witnessed a surge in fresh cases recently have been identified as Orange Zones. On the other hand, a district which has not reported any positive cases will be marked under Green Zone. 

The first set of relaxations from the nationwide lockdown, which came into effect on March 25, kicked in on Monday at select places across Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Goa among other states, even as several states reported a rising number of cases to take the nationwide tally past 18,500.

However, some states preferred to maintain strict restrictions for fear of losing control, with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka joining Delhi in deciding against any relaxation till May 3. Telangana went a step further by extending the lockdown till May 7.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta