Lockdown 5.0: In exit plan, hopes for Metro, malls, restaurants opening

Three days ahead of completing 68-day countrywide lockdown, the government is learnt to have come up with a roadmap of an exit plan from the crisis in its fourth extension of the restrictions 5.0 which may allow malls and restaurants to reopen and limit restrictions only in containment zones

May 29, 2020
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New Delhi: Three days ahead of completing 68-day countrywide lockdown, the government is learnt to have come up with a roadmap of an exit plan from the crisis in its fourth extension of the restrictions 5.0 which may allow malls and restaurants to reopen and limit restrictions only in containment zones.

Other activities expected to get the government nod could include movement of Delhi Metro and the opening of more markets. There is a possibility of allowing religious places to function. But social distancing norms, use of face cover and Aarogya Setu mobile app would be the key entry tickets everywhere.

However, education institutes are supposed to function online only in the further extension expected to cover a minimum of 10 days as the lockdown 4.0 ends on May 31.

The new guidelines for the extended lockdown, however, will be comparatively much stricter for 13 worst COVID-19-hit cities. These cities are considered the worst COVID-19-affected locations and form about 70 per cent of the positive cases in the country.

The 13 focus cities are Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Thane, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata and adjoining Howrah, Indore, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Chengalpattu and Thiruvallur. The last two cities are from Tamil Nadu. However, Maharashtra is the only state with three worst-hit cities of India.  

The government in the new range of restrictions is expected to sharpen its focus on containment zones, which would have to be geographically defined based on factors such as mapping of cases and contacts and their geographical spread. This would enable the authorities to demarcate a well- defined perimeter and enforce strict protocols of lockdown.

Sources in the governments suggested that it would be a "different fight" in the lockdown 5.0 against the deadly virus which has so far infected over 165,000 people and killed 4,706 Indians. The country ranks 9th in the world in the context of highly COVID-19-affeced countries.

From June 1, municipal corporations would decide if residential colonies, mohallas, municipal wards or police-station areas, municipal zones, towns could be designated as containment zones.

The fresh guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs for the extended lockdown will give powers to states to take strict measures as per their need without diluting the government's norms.

In Jammu and Kashmir, a government official said that except shopping malls, multiplexes, restaurants, schools, colleges and gymnasiums, everything else will be allowed.

In the ongoing phase of the lockdown, the government gave authority to the states to demarcate zones based on the severity of cases, and within a set of broad guidelines and allowed states to frame their own rules on the extent of activity allowed.

Several states allowed the resumption of private transport; limited public transport; shops (except in malls and shopping complexes) and industrial activities. The Centre, in this period, also resumed domestic flights.

The countrywide lockdown was imposed on March 25 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the first-ever such announcement to contain the COVID-19 spread. The restrictions have been extended thrice since then.

The nationwide lockdown - the fourth phase of which ends on May 31 - is likely to be extended beyond this date with more relaxations as most Indian states are in favour of continuing it for two more weeks, sources said on Friday. Home Minister Amit Shah conveyed the views of states on the issue to Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday. 

The sources pointed out that many states, majority of them ruled by the BJP, are in favour of the lockdown extension for the fifth time due to increase in novel coronavirus cases in the wake of the return of migrant workers from different states and Indians stuck abroad.

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