States want more relaxations in lockdown 4.0; The center reflects on the relief of some strict curbs
NEW DELHI/PATNA: State governments want more relaxations on closure restrictions to expand economic activities in non-containment zones, as the Center reflects on easing some strict restrictions in the fourth phase of closure starting Monday.
Some governments are also in favor of extending the blockade until the end of this month. The 54-day closure in three phases to help combat the pandemic will end on May 17.
The Mizoram government announced on Friday that it will extend the closure until May 31, while the Bihar government urged the Center to continue the unprecedented measure until the end of the month, in addition to maintaining rail and air traffic, in addition to 'Shramik Special' trains for migrant workers and evacuation flights, suspended during the period.
No state wants a complete withdrawal of the blockade, but everyone wants the gradual resumption of economic activities, said an Interior Ministry (MHA) official.
Several states and Union Territories (UT) also wanted powers to decide on zoning 733 districts in green, orange, and red based on the Covid-19 situation.
An official familiar with the central government deliberations said there will be much relaxation and flexibility with the complete reopening of the green zones, very limited curbs in the orange zones and strict restrictions only in the containment areas of the red zones.
The official also said that states and UTs may be empowered to make decisions about curve relief.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech to the nation on Monday, said that .0 will take a completely different shape with new rules. State governments and UT administrations were asked to submit their recommendations on the road ahead of the country by Friday.
We appeal to the Center to extend the blockade for two more weeks. We have already sent our detailed views on this, said Assam Prime Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
Sonowal told reporters in Guwahati that the state has also conveyed its views on the relaxations it wants in the fourth phase of the shutdown.
According to a Center official, Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Assam and Telangana wanted the closure to be continued and empowered to decide the zoning of the districts (green, orange and red) according to COVID. 19 situation.
This request from state governments can be accepted so that they can restrict or allow the movement of people or economic activities in a particular place depending on the situation on the ground, the official told PTI.
Schools, colleges, shopping malls and movie theaters will not be allowed to open anywhere in the country, but salons, barber shops and optical stores may be allowed in the red zones, except for the Covid-19 containment areas, he said. the official.
However, the final guidelines will be issued by the MHA only after following the suggestions of state governments.
Gradual and needs-based operations are likely to be allowed for national railways and airlines starting next week, but the full opening of the two sectors is unlikely to take place immediately, the official said.
In addition to Bihar, states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were not in favor of the complete resumption of train and air services, at least until the end of May, the official said.
Tamil Nadu, while inclined to further ease restrictions to stimulate the economy, has categorically told the Center that it was against opening air and train services until May 31, as the number of coronavirus cases in the status increased to 10,000 only to be behind Maharashtra. Furthermore, the government is unlikely to resume the operation of state buses.
Maharashtra, which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths from the virus, wants stringent blockade measures to continue in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Pune, Solapur, Aurangabad and Malegaon until May 31 and the complete stop of the states and interdistrict transport of any kind.
Elsewhere in the state, the Center's guidelines will be implemented when announced before the end of the 3-blockade on May 17, a state official in Mumbai said. Maharashtra represents nearly 28,000 coronavirus cases to top the national count, which stood at around 82,500.
While Gujarat with the third highest number of Covid-19 cases was due to the resumption of economic activities in the main urban centers.
If we keep people away from their jobs and professions, it will be catastrophic for them and their families. Even the state's economic condition will deteriorate if this situation persists, Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel said.
Economic activity is also important. Now, people cannot afford to sit at home fearing the coronavirus. Our government is also of the same opinion.
States that are in favor of opening economic activities include Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, according to the central official.
After May 17, the Indian government will relax so many things, let's hope, said Karnataka Prime Minister B S Yediyurappa.
According to me, they (the Center) will relax everything ... it may be for things like five-star hotels and others that may not give permission at the moment, but for other things they will give permission. Let's wait and see, he told reporters in Bangalore.
Kerala sought industrial and commercial activities that were allowed in rural and urban areas, except in containment areas, opening of domestic air services, in-state passenger trains, and metropolitan rail services, although he was not currently interested in interstate rail services.
It has also suggested bus service within the district with a limited number of passengers and strict health protocols, including social distancing.
The opening of the hotel sector with strict social distancing within restaurants has also been debated.
Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha, who have seen an increase in Covid-19 cases after the arrival of migrant workers, want to continue the closure with strict restrictions on the movement of people.
Chhattisgarh Prime Minister Bhupesh Baghel urged Prime Minister Modi not to open state borders for the next few months and called for interstate transport to stop, except for migrants or essential services, to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
However, it called for the opening of economic activities with precautions and rules of social distancing and also favored allowing all e-commerce activities and the opening of hotels, but not restaurants and bars.
Local trains, buses and metro services can start operating with limited capacity in red zone non-containment areas in the country, according to the central official.
Cars and taxis are also expected to be allowed in red zones with restrictions on passenger numbers.
Most of these services will be allowed within districts in non-containment areas and state governments may be authorized to attend their reopening, the official said.
Powers to open markets in the orange and red zones can be given to state governments, which can follow the odd-numbered policy while allowing non-essential goods stores to open.
The Delhi government in its proposal to the Center suggested opening markets, shopping complexes and the operation of buses and metro services with strict rules of social distancing.
The government has also proposed construction activities in the national capital and the movement of workers within Delhi will be allowed, government sources said.