Chief Ministers of at least six states on Monday pitched for the nationwide lockdown imposed to control the spread of coronavirus to be extended beyond May 3 as they took part in a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the prevailing situation.
While West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that the lockdown should at least be extended till May 21, the other five CMs – Jaganmohan Reddy of Andhra Pradesh, Pramod Sawant of Goa, Jai Ram Thakur of Himachal Pradesh, Zoramthanga of Mizoram and Conrad Sangma of Meghalaya – supported an extension without giving any set timeline.
Speaking to reporters through an online briefing, Banerjee said that while the restrictions should be extended, there should be more relaxations as well.
“We are in favour of extending the lockdown till May 21. From today's meeting with the PM, the sense I got from what he had to say, is that this lockdown would continue,” she said.
Bengal has so far reported 504 cases, of which 109 patients have recovered and 20 have died. However, there have been concerns about the figures being underreported as only 12 people have been tested so far.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Modi told the chief ministers that the lockdown would continue in hotspot zones. However, relaxations would depend on the situation in individual states and curbs would be lifted in districts that have shown improvement.
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant, who had last week declared the coastal state coronavirus-free, also said the lockdown should be extended further with relaxation for economic activities within the state.
Sawant, who also participated in the meeting, said that many other states had also sought an extension of the ongoing lockdown, without taking names.
"We believe that the lockdown should be extended. We will be writing to the Prime Minister soon. Economical activities within the state should continue, but the border should be sealed," Sawant told reporters at the State Secretariat.
Meghalaya chief minister also mooted to continue with the lockdown with relaxations on activities in the districts which have not been affected by COVID-19.
Zoramthanga, one of the nine CMs who spoke during Monday’s meeting, said he wants the lockdown extended as the state is surrounded by Myanmar, Bangladesh and neighbouring states that also have Covid-19 patients. “we can’t be complacent and have to guard ourselves very strictly,” he said.
According to Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy, most CMs were in the favour of the lockdown being extended, although that claim was disputed by the Karnataka CM.
This was the fourth video conference of the prime minister with the chief ministers after the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
The Centre had extended the lockdown from April 14 to May 3 for a total shut down of 40 days, but has gradually lifted restrictions over the last two weeks, starting with agricultural activities and industries in rural areas.
The Centre has now allowed neighbourhood and standalone shops, including those located in residential complexes, in urban areas to open during the lockdown. But those in the markets continue to remain shut till May 3. None of the relaxations, however, apply to hotspot zones.