Signal from PM Modi to CMs: Covid-19 lockdown may continue beyond May 3

The PM indicated that Covid-19 is here for a long haul and that people need to learn to live with it. He said masks and face covers would become part of our lives in the days ahead and reiterated the mantra of ‘do gaz doori’ or social distancing.
The nationwide lockdown is all set to be extended beyond May 3, at least until the middle of the month in the red zones of the country, as many states told Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a video-conference meeting on Monday that it’s not the time yet to lift the curbs.

This means more activities may be allowed to resume in green zones of the country.

Most Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states support extending the lockdown, but will wait and abide by the Centre’s fresh guidelines. Telangana has already extended the lockdown until May 7, and will take a decision on further extension on May 5.

Odisha, Meghalaya and some others support extending it by a month. Congress-led governments want the lockdown to be lifted in areas other than hotpots or containment zones.

Delhi will take a call by April 30.

Maharashtra will also decide by the end of the month, but will not lift the lockdown in urban centres like Mumbai and Pune, which are in red zones, while allowing economic activity in green zones. Mindful of the economic challenges, the government is preparing a detailed exit strategy that would give states more space in deciding their respective plans, sources said after the three-hour meeting.

All CMs, except Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan, who sent his chief secretary, participated in the meeting. Nine CMs spoke while the rest sent in their suggestions.

The PM indicated that Covid-19 is here for a long haul and that people need to learn to live with it. He said masks and face covers would become part of our lives in the days ahead and reiterated the mantra of ‘do gaz doori’ or social distancing.

While hinting that the time hasn’t come to lift the lockdown, which had yielded positive results, Modi asked states to focus on converting the red zones into orange, and thereafter to green zones. He said, “and now we have to think of the way ahead”.

The CMs spoke of the need to address economic challenges, while demanding a stimulus package and resolution of the stranded migrant issue. The PM said, “we have to give importance to the economy as well as continue the fight against Covid.”

Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur said his state had favourable conditions to allow economic activity as it has not seen any new cases in the past five days. “We need to learn to live with it (coronavirus),” Thakur said.

Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik suggested extending the lockdown by another month, a proposal which got support from Goa and Meghalaya. In a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh asked for permission to open small businesses in areas except red zones.

However, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren said he would not implement central guidelines on reopening shops due to the sudden spurt in cases.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said the central guidelines were at times contradictory and confusing.

While Uttar Pradesh continued to get its migrants back, including 12,000 from Haryana on Monday, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said it was not possible to bring back students until the Centre revises lockdown guidelines.

Puducherry’s V Narayansamy said the PM did not respond to the demand for an economic package or on the issue of migrants. He, however, supported the view that lockdown should be extended.

Rajasthan’s Ashok Gehlot said the PM lauded the extension of working hours of labourers, and that lockdown should be lifted from non-hotspot areas. He said people might die of hunger, if not coronavirus, if attention was not paid on economic revival.

Gujarat’s Vijay Rupani apprised the PM of the steps taken in the state, including easing lockdown in a staggered manner, keeping small and medium vendors as well as labourers' well-being in mind.

Haryana-Delhi border tightened

Haryana will also further tighten the borders of its satellite cities of Gurugram and Faridabad with Delhi. Just as Uttar Pradesh complained that coronavirus cases had come from Delhi, Haryana has said a number of recent cases were traced to the same city. Haryana had earlier sealed its Sonipat district border with Delhi.  BS Reporter


TN builds, breaks makeshift walls

Tamil Nadu authorities on Monday built and then dismantled temporary walls on roads across the border with Andhra Pradesh at two remote checkpoints near Vellore. The structures, made of hollow concrete blocks, were put up at Synagunda and Ponnai on the border with Andhra Pradesh to prevent unauthorised arrival of people into Tamil Nadu. PTI

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