Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday indicated that the nationwide lockdown could be extended further beyond May 17 as he held a marathon meeting with chief ministers to discuss the roadmap for India’s response to the pandemic.
Sources told News18 that the Prime Minister told the CMs that lockdown will have to continue, but there will be more relaxations to increase public activity gradually while adhering to guidelines.
The PM asked the chief ministers to share by May 15 a broad strategy on how they want to deal with lockdown regime in their states.
One of the ways of giving more relaxations, the PM suggested was to do away with red zone classification for districts. He said that the entire district may not be declared as a red zone, and strict restrictions on movement could only be limited to containment areas.
The Centre had divided the country into red, orange and green zones based on the number of cases and the trajectory. While orange and green zones saw several relaxations from May 3, when the third phase of the lockdown began, most curbs were not lifted from red zone districts.
All the major metro cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad – were in the red zone category.
Government sources say a number of states have asked for the lockdown to be extended but limited to areas worst hit by the virus. They have also requested for red zones to be changed from entire districts to just containment zones.
The PM also assured the states that the Centre was working to reopen the economy and said suggestions given by them for its revival were being given due consideration.
According to an official statement, Modi also said resumption of train services was needed to rev up the economic activity. But, he made it clear that services on all routes will not be resumed and that only a limited number of trains would ply for now.
"We can now focus our strategy in this battle against coronavirus, as should be the case. We have a twofold challenge, to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity gradually, while adhering to all the guidelines. We will have to work towards achieving both these objectives," he said.
"I am of the firm view that the measures needed in the first phase of lockdown were not needed during the second phase and similarly the measures needed in the third phase are not needed in the fourth," he told the chief ministers according to the statement.