As the number of corona-positive cases surges, the question of whether to extend the lockdown or not was at the top of the agenda in this Friday’s meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Under the Centre’s current policy, the fourth phase of the lockdown will end on 31 May. The Home Minister spoke to all the CMs on Thursday to seek their feedback on the way forward. On Friday, he shared the inputs received from the CMs with the Prime Minister while taking the time to discuss future strategies.
According to sources, many states are in favour of another extension but with much more leniency than the fourth one. In this meeting, the plan after 31 May has been drawn for Lockdown 5.0. According to sources, in the meeting between the Home Minister and the CMs, several states were in favour of extension but with a comprehensive exemption to support economic activity.
Shah was briefed about the way forward to fight against coronavirus, with the feedback from this meeting being shared with PM Modi. Until now, it had been the PM who presided over such meetings with the CMs. This latest meeting put the Home Minister in charge of speaking to the chief ministers to get an opinion on the lockdown, which was followed by the meeting between Shah and PM Modi. In some states, conditions have deteriorated exponentially due to Covid-19.
More cases have emerged in states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. There are many states where number of cases are low but the coronavirus graph is still rising. Assam has seen a rapid increase in the cases in the last four days. Ending the lockdown completely can make situation uncontainable, so states want to continue with the lockdown, though with little relaxations.
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant demanded that the lockdown should be extended for at least 15 days, with certain relaxations such as gym, restaurants be allowed to open with social distancing in place. If lockdown extends, further relaxation is expected. The government’s focus will be on those cities where corona cases are high—for instance Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Thane, Indore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Surat and Kolkata.
Schools and colleges are expected to remain shut. Restrictions on international flights will continue too. However, the decision of whether to open religious places, gyms and shopping malls can be left to the state governments.