States Planning For Lockdown 4, Starting Monday: 10 Points
Allowing public transportation, including metro services and flights, and restarting economic activity in non-containment zones were among the proposals sent by states to the Prime Minister's Office, as the centre draws up plans for a phased exit from the nationwide lockdown. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a six-hour video call with several chief ministers and asked for states' input on this matter. Lockdown 4.0 will seek to project "normalcy on the ground". The current lockdown - the third since it was enforced on March 25 - is scheduled to end on Sunday. It will be extended again, given the steep rise in the number of cases, but, with red flags over the condition of the economy, further relaxations in economic activity are likely. Across India coronavirus cases jumped by 3,976 in the past 24 hours, with 100 deaths reported in that time. The total number of cases in the country has crossed 81,000, with 2,649 deaths linked to the virus.
Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
1. A number of states, including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and national capital Delhi, have suggested reopening large swathes of the economy and society closed during earlier lockdown phases. Andhra, for example, has proposed resuming all economic and public activities in non-containment areas. The southern state has 2,137 COVID-19 cases according to Home Ministry data and 11,422 people in quarantine.
2. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, addressing the media on Thursday after receiving feedback from residents, said some economic activities should be allowed in Delhi 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. Kerala - a state that relies heavily on tourism for revenue - wants metro services, local trains, domestic flights, restaurants and hotels to be re-opened. The state, which reported India's first three coronavirus cases, has made remarkable strides in flattening the infection curve - of 560 reported cases, nearly 500 have been cured and only four deaths have been reported. This makes the state's request feasible, an official said.
4. Karnataka, which has also done well to contain the viral outbreak, 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. Karnataka has 959 active coronavirus cases, per 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 request is likely to be viewed with caution, given the state has registered a massive surge in COVID-19 cases over the past few days. A vegetable market in state capital Chennai has been linked to more than 2,600 cases. The ruling AIADMK has, however, said it has managed to identify zones where the virus is spreading rapidly. 4,623 people are in quarantine in the state that, from Monday, announced major relaxations, including extension of working hours for shops and private establishments.
6. Gujarat, which has 9,591 cases and has reported 586 deaths, wants to resume all economic activity in all major urban centres. This comes despite a heavy caseload in cities like Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara, with three accounting for 80 per cent of the state's cases; Ahmedabad alone accounts for 70 per cent of that figure, according to Home Ministry data. Sources say the centre is worried about the situation in Gujarat, where as many as 2,08,537 people are still in quarantine
7. Maharashtra - the state most badly affected - is reluctant to open up too much of the economy or too many offices. With nearly 30,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths, the state government today announced an extension of the lockdown in Mumbai and other parts; Mumbai, widely regarded as India's financial capital, has nearly 16,000 cases on its own. The ruling Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government, however, has announced major sops for industries. With 1,289 and counting, the state also has the maximum number of containment zones of any other. It also has close to three lakh people in quarantine, raising fears over already-stressed healthcare infrastructure.
8. Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha have gone the other way, with all three states asking for the strict lockdown to continue. COVID-19 case numbers in these states are climbing, and are set to climb even further, with the return of migrants stranded across the country. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has made it clear the lockdown in his state will be extended to May 31. He also said 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 three deaths.
9. Uttar Pradesh is also likely to present a big challenge for the centre, with the populous state reporting 3,902 positive cases and 88 deaths, so far. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's government also has 2.3 lakh people in quarantine or isolation. Punjab's COVID-19 numbers have also swollen in recent days, with 1,935 reported cases, 32 deaths and nearly 40,000 in quarantine. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is among those who asked for an extension of the lockdown, stating during the meeting with PM Modi that "we must have strong lockdown. I will ensure a curfew".
10. Assam has also called for an extension of the lockdown. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who also indicated that it was up to the centre to take a decision on this matter, was quoted by news agency ANI: "Let Government of India take a view because it is not a single step... many steps have to be considered".