New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Sunday directed states to extend lockdown by two weeks, till May 31. The fourth phase of lockdown will commence from May 18. 

The NDMA further directed the National Executive Committee (NEC) to issue modifications in the guidelines, "keeping in view the need to open up economic activities while containing the spread of COVID-19."

The NDMA, in exercise of powers under Section 6 (2) (i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, hereby directs the ministries and departments of the Government of India, state governments and state authorities to continue the lockdown measures up to May 31, NDMA member secretary G V V Sarma said.

The authority further directs the National Executive Committee, headed by the Union Home Secretary, to issue modifications in the guidelines as necessary, keeping in view the need to open up economic activities while containing the spread of COVID-19, the order said.

Union Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba will hold a meeting with state chief secretaries at 9 pm today to discuss the modalities of the extension of guidelines and the likely ease in restrictions. 

Maharashtra, Telangana, Punjab and Meghalaya have already announced the extension of the lockdown till May 31.

Greater relaxations and flexibility will be seen in the lockdown 4.0, which will begin on Monday, with gradual reopening of the railways and domestic airlines while powers will be given to States and UTs to define their hotspots.

Schools, colleges, malls and cinema halls will not be allowed to open anywhere in the country but salons, barber shops and optical shops may be allowed in red zones, barring COVID-19 containment areas.

There will be lots of relaxations and flexibility in the lockdown 4.0 with complete reopening of the green zones, very limited curb in orange zones and strict restrictions only in the containment areas of red zones, said an official privy to the deliberations in the central government.

Gradual and need-based operations of the railways and domestic airlines are likely to be allowed from next week but full-fledged opening of the two sectors is unlikely to take place immediately.

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 2,872 and the number of total positive cases climbed to 90,927 Sunday morning, according to the Union Health Ministry.

The lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 for 21 days with effect from March 25. It was then extended till May 3 and again till May 17. 

Posted By: abhinav gupta