Covid-19 crisis: States urge PM Modi to extend lockdown but relax norms

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on the coronavirus situation.
As cases of Covid-19 spike, most states, including those ruled by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have asked the Centre to extend the lockdown by at least two more weeks and also sought more relaxations across all three zones to revive the economy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier this week asked the states to send suggestions on their respective strategies for lockdown 4.0, which comes into force from Monday. He had said the new norms will be shared in advance, and the contours of lockdown 4.0 would be different from the previous ones. The lockdown was first enforced on March 25, and the current phase ends on May 17.

Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab, and Delhi want reopening of much of the economic activity across three zones, but for containment zones. With migrants returning and the spread of Covid-19 increasing, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha want a strict lockdown to continue.

Delhi transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the state favoured restarting of metro services, but the decisions will have to be of the Centre.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has said the lockdown in the state will be extended till May 31. Kerala wants metro services, local trains, domestic flights, restaurants and hotels to be reopened. Karnataka wants restaurants, hotels and gymnasiums reopened.

Maharashtra wants the lockdown to be extended until May 31, but more economic activities to be opened up in green and orange zones. Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting of senior ministers and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar to suggest extension of lockdown until May 31.

BJP-ruled Assam has recommended to the Centre to extend the lockdown by at least a fortnight, while BJP-ruled Goa has suggested the Railways cancel the halt at Madgaon station for special trains as the state recorded new cases after a gap of more than a month. Goa CM Pramod Sawant said: "720 people booked tickets on the train to get down at Madgaon. We have realised that hardly anyone of them is Goan."

Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal said challenges posed by the pandemic will increase in the coming days. “It will be a Himalayan challenge for us,” Sonowal said, appealing to people to follow social distancing.

Congress-ruled Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Punjab have suggested all essential and non-essential economic activities should be started in red zones as well but for in containment zones. Chhattisgarh opposed restarting of train services, other than Shramik Specials. Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel said hotels should be allowed to open, but weddings, spas should remain banned. Chhattisgarh, as also most other state governments, said the power to classify zones should be with them, with the Centre framing guidelines. The state also recommended inter-state transport only for stranded migrants and a continued ban on public transport.

Rajasthan had on May 11 allowed inter-district movement of people without passes.

Tamil Nadu has announced a six-day working week from May 18, and increased the working strength in all its offices from 33 per cent to 50 per cent, from next Monday, with employees working in three batches of two days each.

In Haryana, few passengers turned up at Haryana Roadways bus stands as bus services resumed from Friday.
This was after the state government decided to start special bus services on select routes.


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