Malls, restaurants to reopen as lockdown is extended till June 30

India on Saturday eased a weeks-long lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak, allowing places of worship, malls, restaurants and hotels to reopen from June 8 and education places later.

Restrictions in containment zones, places worst affected in the outbreak, will continue under lockdown till June 30. Schools, colleges, and other educational institutions will be opened after consultations with states and union territories as part of a multi-phase plan to reopen the country, said the union home ministry in a notification.

The ministry’s new guidelines—called Unlock 1—will come into effect from June 1 and will be effective till June 30.

Economic growth fell to 3.1 per cent—a low not seen in more than 17 years—in the fourth quarter of 2019-20, with private investment and manufacturing hit hard though the lockdown affected just a few days in March.

This pulled down gross domestic product (GDP) growth to an 11-year low of 4.2 per cent in 2019-20. This was lower than the government projection of 5 per cent in both first and second advance estimates.

The lockdown’s full impact on manufacturing and services will become more apparent in the June quarter. Goldman Sachs has predicted a 45 per cent contraction from a year ago, at the high end of estimates, said news agency Reuters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi put under India under a 21-day lockdown from March 24, saying the restriction was the only way to break the chain of infection. Restrictions have been eased since then, allowing farming, construction and domestic flights.

India had progressed in the last year but migrant workers and the poor had "undergone tremendous suffering" in the coronavirus, said Modi in a letter marking the first anniversary of his second term.

“In a crisis of this magnitude, it can certainly not be claimed that no one suffered any inconvenience or discomfort. Our labourers, migrant workers, artisans and craftsmen in small-scale industries, hawkers, and such fellow countrymen have undergone tremendous suffering,” he said.

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