India sets to end night curfew as virus cases hit 1.5 million - GulfToday

India sets to end night curfew as virus cases hit 1.5 million


A groom, bride and relatives wearing face masks wait to perform rituals of their social marriage funtion, during a lockdown in Kolkata on Wednesday. AFP

India will reopen gyms and end a nighttime curfew from August, but cinemas, bars and schools will remain closed in the vast South Asian nation as the number of coronavirus cases passed 1.5 million and deaths neared 35,000 on Wednesday.

ShoppingEidIndiaA woman looks at 'rakhis' (sacred thread) at a shop in Amritsar. AFP

With the present phase 2 of unlocking India ending at midnight on July 31, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a new set of guidelines permitting a package of activities outside containment zones. It extended the lockdown — including night curfew — up to the end of August in areas severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

International air travel will continue to be restricted during "Unlock-3" to repatriation flights bringing back Indian citizens from abroad and limited air services permitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The country of 1.3 billion people — the world's third-most infected nation — has gradually eased its virus restrictions imposed since late March to boost the flagging economy.

BrideIndiaMaskA bride wearing a face mask is being prepared before performing rituals of her social marriage function. AFP

But the latest reopenings from Aug.5 are limited to gyms and yoga teaching facilities, as well as an end to the curfew, currently from 10pm to 5am.
Case numbers in India are soaring and more states are reimposing shutdowns to stem the spread of the virus.

Independence Day celebrations on Aug.15 will go ahead, but with "social distancing and by following other health protocols" such as mask-wearing, the home affairs ministry said.

Metro train services, cinemas, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums and assembly halls will remain closed for now, it added.

Schools and other educational institutions will also remain shut through the end of August, at least.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this week that India was in a "better position that other countries," and winning international praise.

IndianmigrantsMigrant workers walk to a bus terminus during West Bengal state lockdown. AP

The health ministry website — which no longer includes total infections as the government puts more emphasis on recoveries — on Wednesday reported almost 50,000 new infections and 768 more deaths.

India, home to some of the world's most crowded cities and where health-care spending per capita is among the world's lowest, passed one million cases only 12 days ago.

But many experts have said the country is not testing enough people, and that many coronavirus-linked deaths are not being recorded as such.

WAM / Agence France-Presse 


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