The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday indicated to chief ministers, with whom he interacted on video, that the nationwide lockdown could be extended in worst-hit areas of the country after May 3.
Modi conveyed to chief ministers that the country will have to give importance to the economy as well as to continue the fight against coronavirus. "We have to give importance to to the economy as well as continue the fight against Covid-19. We have to be brave and bring reforms that touch lives of common people," he said.
At the same time, he is reported to have asserted that the economy is doing well. "There is no need to worry on the economy front, our economy is good," the PM is reported to have said.
"Lockdown has yielded positive results, country has managed to save thousands of lives in past 1.5 months," Modi told the chief ministers.
States should be focused on converting the red zones into orange and thereafter to green zones, he told the CMs, and stressed the importance for states to enforce prescribed guidelines strictly in the coronavirus hotspots zones.
Lauding the lockdown and its impact in breaking the chain of transmission of the virus, Modi said that the impact of Covid-19 will remain visible in the coming months, adding that "masks and face covers will be part of life."
PLAN BEING MADE
Officials indicated that the government is drawing up a plan for lockdown 3, which could go on for another four weeks.
Public travel through trains, flights and buses would remain suspended while rules like social distancing and wearing face masks may be made compulsory for quite a long time.
Inter-state travelling may remain banned, but travel within districts or cities is likely to be allowed after May 3.
Any relaxation will be allowed only in Green Zones which have not seen any fresh case in the last 28 days. People may be allowed to step out of their homes, but only with masks and maintaining social distancing.
Offices may also be allowed to function on the same principles.
Shops selling essential items are likely to continue their operations while following social distancing norms.
"Hotspots” or areas falling under Red Zone will however remain under a tight lid due to the large number of coronavirus cases.
Social and religious gatherings, and weddings are unlikely to be allowed anytime soon as it may spark threat of resurgence of cases.
Shopping malls, gyms and swimming pools too may not be allowed anytime soon. Schools and colleges will remain shut.
STATES TOLD TO DECIDE
Even as directives from the Centre are to be carried out, Modi has reportedly urged the chief ministers to plan now how each state should set easing. Chief Ministers of Bihar, Odisha, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry spoke to Modi.
Meghalaya said it will continue with the shutdown past May 3 with relaxations in green zones.
This is Modi's fourth such interaction with state chief ministers since March 22, two days before he announced the national lockdown.
Among those present at the virtual meet, included Home Minister Amit Shah, and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
Modi, meanwhile, effected a major bureaucratic reshuffle, with senior civil servants AK Sharma and Tarun Bajaj being moved out of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and tasked with important economic portfolios.
Bajaj, a 1988-batch Haryana cadre IAS officer, has been appointed as Secretary, Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance. Sharma, a 1988-batch IAS of Gujarat cadre and also an additional secretary in the PMO, has been appointed Secretary, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan, who was due to superannuate this month-end, was given a three-month extension in service.
The government had brushed aside the idea of taxing the super rich and foreign companies to help pay for the coronavirus economic fallout.
The idea was shared to the Centre by a group of Indian Revenue Service officers, but the government stated that this did not reflect official views and never asked IRS Association to prepare such a report.
Union Finance Ministry on Saturday told the IRS Association that Central Board of Direct Taxes never asked for it. Also, the ministry said the government officials should have taken permission before going public with their personal views and suggestions. In the last tweet, the Finance Ministry reiterated that the impugned report does not reflect the official views of CBDT/Ministry of Finance in any manner.
Modi also asked citizens to stay indoors, not spread panic about the virus and form local groups to ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols. He said the central government is working with states and private companies to ramp up the supply of oxygen, as well as production and distribution of vaccines.
Total lockdown, lesser industrial activity, travel restrictions, shutdown of non-essential services, lesser vehicles on the road – measures taken by the Indian government and by governments across the globe to battle the coronavirus have had one immediate effect!
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