New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Centre is likely to extend the lockdown by another two weeks after May 31 and might come with some further relaxations. The Centre is preparing for the fifth phase of lockdown and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah regarding this on Friday. 

On Thursday evening, Shah had held discussions with chief ministers regarding the lockdown and asked for their views on further extension and steps to revice the economy.  

A News 18 report quoted a government source saying that the next phase of lockdown will be described as “lockdown extension in spirit” which will be focused on 13 cities that have nearly 70 per cent of the country’s overall COVID-19 cases.

The cities in focus are Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Thane, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Indore, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Chengalpattu, and Thiruvallur.

Places of worship and gymnasiums may be allowed to open in ‘Lockdown 5.0’ but no religious congregation or any other mass gathering will be allowed, as per government officials quoted in the report.

The BJP-led government in Karnataka has already batted for opening of temples and churches from June 1 with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa saying that the religious places will reopen once the Centre gives permission.

The fifth phase of lockdown is likely to continue restrictions on shopping malls, cinema halls, schools, colleges and other educational institutions.    

Meanwhile, a Times of India report said that after May 31, the Centre may leave it to the states and Union Territories to decide on further restrictions, other than a pan-India 'negative' list that may continue to ban international flights and schools and collegs.   

The country's tally of coronavirus cases has topped the 1.5-lakh mark with the death toll mounting to over 4,300. With the country reporting over 6,000 cases for straight days, it also entered the list of the 10 countries which are worst hit from the deadly virus.

Following the Centre allowing ease in lockdown curbs in May, the cases in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have more than doubled.

These states have been attributing the increase in their tallies to arrival of people from outside in special trains, being run since May 1 to ferry migrant workers to their native places, and special international flights that began on May 1 to bring back stranded Indians and expatriates from abroad.

The Centre had in the fourth phase of the lockdown focused most of the restrictions to the containment zones and allowed operation of all markets, offices, industries and business along with plying of buses in all other areas to completely open the economy. Last week, the government also allowed operations of domestic flights in a limited capacity.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta