Giving the nod to public transport, which includes metro services and flights, and restarting economic activity in non-containment zones were some of the propositions made by the states to the Prime Minister, as the centre draws up layouts for a gradual escape route from the nationwide closedown.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a six-hour long meeting with several heads of state and solicited their input on this matter. Phase 4 lockdown will sought “normalcy on the ground”. The ongoing lockdown is scheduled to finish on Sunday. However, it will be stretched out further, given the rapid increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, but, with economic condition travailing further relaxation in economic activity are distinctly possible.
Coronavirus cases in India soared to 3,976 in the past 24 hours, with 100 deaths reported at that time. The total cases in the country has gone beyond 81,000 with 2,649.
Here are the key points:
1) States such as Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and Delhi, have suggested reopening large swathes of the economy and society closed during earlier lockdown. Andhra Pradesh for instance, has proposed resuming all economic and public activities in non-containment zones. The southern state has 2,137 coronavirus cases as per the Home Ministry data and 11,422 people in isolation.
2) Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, talking to the media on Thursday after receiving feedback from residents, stated that some economic activities should be permitted in the national capital except in containment zones. He called for the lifting of more curbs in Delhi – all of which has been designated a red zone to suggest a high-concentration of cases.
3) The state of Kerala depends heavily on tourism for revenue – wants metro services, local trains, domestic flights, restaurants and hotels to be re-opened. Kerala, which reported first three coronavirus casesin India, has made remarkable strides in flattening the curve – of 560 reported cases, nearly 500 have been cured and only four deaths have been reported.
4) Karnataka, which has also done relatively well to curb the virus, has asked the centre for permission to re-open restaurants, hotels and gymnasiums – public spaces closed weeks ago to encourage social distancing and check the virus’ spread. The state has 959 active coronavirus cases, according to the Home Ministry data, with a further 1,518 in isolation. Last week it allowed pubs and bars to sell liquor, on takeaway basis till May 17.
5) Tamil Nadu has also asked for economic activity to be re-started except in containment zones. The plea is likely to be viewed with caution, given the state has registered a huge increase in coronavirus cases over the last few days. A vegetable market in Chennai has been linked to more than 2,600 cases. The ruling AIADMK has, however, said it has managed to pick out areas where the virus is spreading rapidly. 4,623 people are in isolation, from Monday, announced major relaxations, including extension of working hours for shops and private firms.
6) Gujarat has 9,591 cases and has reported 586 deaths, the state wants to re-start all economic activity in all key urban centres. This comes regardless of a heavy caseload in cities like Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara, with three accounting for 80% of the state’s cases, Ahmedabad alone accounts for 70% of that figure, as per the Ministry of Home Affairs. Sources say the centre is worried about the situation in the state, where about 2,08,537 people are still in isolation.
7) Maharashtra the most badly hit state is unwilling to open up too much of the economy or too many offices. With nearly 30,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths, the state government today put out an extension of the lockdown in Mumbai and other parts; Mumbai which is considered as India
country’s financial capital, has around 16,000 cases. The ruling Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government, however, has put out major sops for industries. With 1,289 and counting, the state also has the maximum number of containment zones. It also has about 3 lakh people in isolation, raising fears over already-stressed healthcare system.
8) The state of Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha have gone the other way, with all three states asking for the strict lockdown to carry on. coronavirus case numbers in these states are mounting, and are set to climb even further, with the return of migrants stranded across India. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has elucidated the lockdown in his state will be prolonged to 31st May. The chief minister further stated relaxation of guidelines should be left to district administrations. Bihar has 994 cases and seven deaths, Jharkhand has 197 cases and three deaths and Odisha has 611 cases and 3 deaths.
9) UP is most likely to present a big challenge for the central government, with the state reporting 3,902 positive cases and 88 deaths, thus far. UP government also has 2.3 lakh people in quarantine. Punjab’s COVID numbers on the other hand have also gone up in recent days, with 1,935 cases and 32 deaths and nearly 40,000 in isolation. Punjab CM Amarinder Singh is among those who asked for an extension of the lockdown, stating during the meeting with the Prime Minister that “we must have strong lockdown. I will ensure a curfew”.
10) India’s north east state of Assam has also called for an extension of the closedown. State head Sarbananda Sonowal, who also indicated that it was up to the centre to take a decision on lockdown, was quoted by ANI: “Let Government of India take a view because it is not a single step… many steps have to be considered”.
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