Lockdown extension: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with Chief Ministers comes as second phase of the lockdown, which ends on May 3, has entered its final week.
Coronavirus India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today hold discussions with Chief Ministers of all the states and Union Territories, his third such meeting since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in the country. An exit plan once restrictions are lifted, the migrant crisis and financial demands by states are among issues likely to be in the agenda for the meeting. The meeting comes as second phase of the lockdown, which ends on May 3, has entered its final week. The meeting will take place at 10 am via video-conferencing.
Today’s discussion is likely to be focussed on a graded exit from the ongoing lockdown which was extended for another 19 days on April 14. The government has already offered gradual relaxations in various sectors to keep the wheels of the economy rolling.
Lockdown: What states want
While some states want to extend the lockdown beyond May 3 to ensure that coronavirus cases remain under control, some said that they will follow the Centre’s directives. The states that are ready to extend the lockdown in major hotspots beyond May 3 include Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Punjab. States like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have said that they will follow whatever the Centre says.
Notably, the Telangana government has already extended the lockdown till May 7. In Delhi, an official of the Covid-19 committee has suggested that the ongoing lockdown should be extended till mid-May to limit the spread of virus.
Bihar, Assam, Kerala have said that they will take a call whether to extend the lockdown only after the meeting with PM Modi on Monday.
The lockdown was first announced by PM Modi on March 24 for 21 days. It ended on April 14. In the last interaction on April 11, several Chief Ministers had recommended extension of the 21-day lockdown by two weeks. The Prime Minister agreed to the states’ demand and extended the lockdown for another 19 days till May 3. The deadly virus has claimed 872 lives in the country and infected 27,892 people.
‘Country in middle of war’
Earlier on Sunday, PM Modi in his monthly ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio address said the country is in the middle of a ‘yudh’ (war) and asserted that people have to continue being careful and take precautions. He said this while referring to the Centre’s relaxing lockdown norms to revive economic activities in some sectors.
“I urge you not to get overconfident. You should in your over-enthusiasm not think that if the coronavirus has not yet reached your city, village, street or office, it is not going to reach now. Never make such a mistake. The experience of the world tells us a lot in this regard,” he said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed neighbourhood and standalone shops, including those located in residential complexes, in urban areas to open during the lockdown. However, those in the markets will continue to remain shut till May 3.
In rural areas, all shops, except those in shopping malls, are allowed to open. It added that malls will continue to remain shut but markets in rural areas can open. Opening of shops located in coronavirus hotspots and containment zones, sale of non-essential items by e-commerce platforms and sale of liquor will continue to be prohibited.