New Delhi: India is likely to extend the nationwide lockdown for another two weeks after May 17 to contain the spread of coronavirus while continuing to ease restrictions and possibly allowing public transport and reopening of restaurants and shopping malls subject to certain conditions.
Auto-rickshaws and cab aggregators, with up to two passengers, may be allowed to operate, as may domestic flights if both the originating and receiving states agree, said officials. Metro services are, however, likely to remain suspended in red zones, they said.
The new guidelines, based on suggestions from states that PM Narendra Modi had sought during his fifth discussion with chief ministers on the pandemic on May 11, are expected to be released by the home ministry on Saturday after clearance from the Prime Minister’s Office.
It would be the third extension to the lockdown, which was first imposed from March 25 and then extended from April 15 and May 4.
States and Union Territories may get further leeway to define containment zones and allow permitted activities in non-containment zones, said officials.
Issue of Stranded Migrants
“Suggestions from states have been incorporated and they have been given flexibility in deciding red, orange and green zones while ensuring social distancing, hygiene and sanitation,” said a senior home ministry official, who did not wish to be identified. “Discussion on allowing a few shops inside shopping malls and permission to open up eateries and restaurants with social distancing is under way and will be firmed up by Saturday.”
States are also likely to be in a better position to address the issue of stranded migrant workers. Under the new guidelines, states will be directed to utilise Rs 11,000 crore for the welfare and rehabilitation of migrant workers, said officials privy to the draft guidelines. The money was released by the home ministry as part of the State Disaster Relief Fund, they said.
The Centre is in favour of resuming domestic flights on select routes but many states are opposed to the idea, according to officials. Only special trains on pre-approved routes will be allowed while land borders will remain sealed for movement of passengers, even as essential services and goods will be permitted, they said.
The new guidelines will require states to undertake strict measures in containment zones and ensure early contact tracing, said officials. In green zones, though, states will have the flexibility to reopen all other pending economic activities while banning spitting in public and promoting use of masks and frequent handwashing.
“With new guidelines, UP, Haryana and Delhi governments will be able to ensure better mobility between Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad,” said a second home ministry official.
The absence of public transport has hindered movement since March 25 and only those with special passes issued by the district magistrate’s office are being allowed to cross the borders. Besides, Delhi’s bordering districts have restricted entry to prevent a spread of the infection.
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59 Comments on this Story
Parag Kulkarni56 days ago
enjoy your lockdown event and it is here to stay till Diwali at least and maybe next year too !!!
Parag Kulkarni56 days ago
political parties are generating funds for next general elections and for the next generation of politicians and bureaucrats and nobody from ministry and government is unhappy with lockdown as they have unlimited access to funds and unlimited power and nobody to watch the spending!!!
N O T A56 days ago
Lockdown is for life. I dont mean literally but these rules will stay forever. This is what they wanted from this plandemic. This was the plan all along. They have seen how easy it is to ask people to stay at home and public happily complying. What is to say they will not ask you do this again in the future? Anytime they want you to stay at home, the can come up with absurd thing and make you stay home. Your children will grow up under these rules and wont know the difference. This will become the new normal. Limited contact with others and even with friends and family. Social distancing, social isolation all things that are bad for democracy.
Do you think staying home kept you safe? think again. How many rules did you really follow? do you think that mask is of any use? you think that is to protect you? you may have forgotten but the mask is to prevent you from spreading the virus. They think you are a virus carrier. They forced you to stay home and risk the lives of your family members. You may not infect strangers but you could certainly infect your loved ones. So if you could not infect a single soul what use was his lockdown of a whole planet? 1 in 25k people get infected as per their own statistics. Its weaker than a common cold. If you allow this to continue, you will remain in lockdown forever and have no money to feed your family. Choice is yours. Be sensible and start asking some real questions. Is this necessary?