New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his interaction with the chief ministers on a “graded” lifting of the pan-India lockdown, indicated that restrictions may be lifted in green zone areas while tough curbs may continue in red zone areas, identified as hotspots, which include major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

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.

At least five out of nine chief ministers who spoke during the video conference strongly pitched for the extension of lockdown beyond May 3 while a few advocated a cautious relaxation in curbs with limited activities in areas where there have been no fresh cases.

The chief ministers of north-eastern states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand along with some others like Odisha and Bihar opined that lifting the lockdown after May 3 would be premature as fresh cases are occurring every day and hotspots are notified every day.

A decision on whether the lockdown will continue beyond May 3 or whether there will be a phased lifting of the relaxations is expected by Saturday.

Here’s what may be allowed and what may remain closed after May 3 :

  • Schools, colleges, shopping malls, religious places and public transport are likely to remain shut while a ban on public and social gatherings is also expected to continue.
  • The opening of markets and more services is likely to be accompanied by norms on social distancing, alternate days of functioning or restrictions on staff attendance in green and orange zones.
  • While neighbourhood and standalone shops are likely to open with social distancing norms and limited staff, mandis and markets along with single- and multi-brand shopping malls shall remain closed.  
  • 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.  
  • In the green zones districts, limited private vehicles may be allowed to ply but full scale train and air services are unlikely to start anytime soon, an official privy to the developments said.
  • There is a possibility of regulated train or air services after mid-May between some designated places depending on the COVID-19 situation.
  • E-commerce is likely to be allowed to sell non-essential items post May 3. So far, the government has allowed online shopping players like Flipkart and Amazon to sell only essential goods.
  • Opening of liquor shops in green zone areas may be allowed after May 3 keeping in mind the role of excise in driving the economy. However, it is likely to come with strict norms and time limits. So far, the sale of liquor, tobacco and gutkha has been strictly banned across the country.

During his interaction with chief ministers on April 27, PM Modi stressed on the need for the states to strictly enforce lockdown guidelines in the coronavirus hotspots zones, and strongly pitched for the mantra of 'do gaz doori' (a distance of two yards) to protect people from the infection.

The prime minister's interaction with the chief ministers came amid calls from some states to allow economic activities to reduce the devastating impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the economy as well as on livelihoods of lakhs of migrant workers.

India is under a 40-day nationwide lockdown since March 25. The first phase of the nationwide lockdown of 21 days was announced by Modi on March 24, it was later extended by 19 days till May 3 to cut the transmission of the virus, which has infected around 28,000 people and claimed 872 lives in India.   

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta