Coronavirus outbreak: PM Modi suggests graded lifting of 21-day lockdown

Prime Minister indicated on Monday the 21-day lockdown might end on April 14, but only for departments where hotspots of Covid-19 do not exist. At a meeting of the council of ministers, Modi suggested a “graded lifting of the lockdown”, but also seemed keen that production, at least in sectors like pharmaceuticals, should be ramped up.

“A graded plan to slowly open departments where hotspots aren’t existing should be made,” the PM said. He asked whether the restrictions should be lifted sector-wise or district-wise, a source said. However, some states have written to the PM, expressing concerns at opening inter-state transit when the spread of is increasing.

Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel has written to the PM and other states have also conveyed to him that any decisions on inter-state transit be taken after concrete measures are put in place.

In case the lockdown is extended, the government is likely to attribute the delay in lifting it to the efforts that are currently on to trace those who participated in the Tablighi Jamaat event in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin. The spread because of the gathering was not factored in when the PM announced the lockdown, and it was expected the number of cases would have started declining by mid-April, sources said.

The PM told his ministers that the government “must work on war-footing to mitigate” the economic impact of the lockdown. He instructed all ministries to prepare “business continuity plans”, identify 10 key decisions and 10 priority areas of focus for their respective ministries once the lockdown ends. He said India should reduce its dependence on other countries, and work on promoting “Make in India”.

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