Govt to gradually relax Covid-19 restrictions beginning 18 May
11 May 2020
The fifth meeting of the prime minister with state chief ministers to discuss the strategy to counter the threat posed by the spread of the coronavirus decided to take up the dual challenge of reducing the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity head on.
It was decided that beginning 18 May, there will be a phased relaxation n lockdown restrictions imposed in the wake of the transmission of Covid-19, while adhering to all the guidelines, so as to achieve both the objectives.
Interacting with chief ministers of states and union territories on Monday, on the road ahead in India’s fight against Covid-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said even as the country remains focused on its fight against the spread of Covid-19, we also need to leverage the opportunities that the post-Covid era brings.
“We now have reasonably clear indication as to the geographical spread of the pandemic in India, including the worst affected areas. Moreover, over the past few weeks, officials have understood operating procedures in a time such as this, right up to the district level,” the prime minister said in his opening remarks.
“And therefore, we can now further focus our strategy in this battle against coronavirus, as should be the case. We have a twofold challenge – to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity gradually, while adhering to all the guidelines and we will have to work towards achieving both these objectives”, he said.
Prime Minister further said now the effort should be to stop the spread of the COVID-19 to rural areas. He also sought suggestions from all chief minister for formulating a roadmap for the economy.
Several chief ministers, however, highlighted the need to strengthen the medical and health infrastructure in the country, especially with the return of migrants.
The meeting also highlighted the need to concentrate on strict implementation of the social distancing guidelines, usage of masks and sanitisation in order to curb the spread through fresh infection, especially in rural areas.
While Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee complained about the centre’s “unilateral” actions, she like other CMs such as Uddhav Thackeray of Maharashtra and Nitish Kumar of Bihar favoured extension of the lockdown. Kumar even expressed reservations on resumption of train services.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, on the other hand, wanted states to be allowed to decide on public transport while Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik suggested there should be broad lockdown principles.
The compulsory quarantining of the stranded Indians returning from abroad was also highlighted. The chief ministers in their suggestions on economy sought support to MSMEs, infrastructure projects like power, easing of interest rates on loans and assured market access to the agricultural produce.
Prime Minister thanked the chief minister’s for their proactive role in the country’s fight against the Covid-19 and for their valuable suggestions emanating out of their grassroot level experience.
While appreciating the pr-active role of state governments, the prime minister reminded the chief minutes that the world has fundamentally changed post Covid-19. “Now the World will be Pre-Corona, Post-Corona just like the case of the World Wars. And this would entail significant changes in how we function.”
He said the new way of life would be on the principle of “Jan Se lekar Jag Tak”, from an individual to the whole of humanity. We must all plan for the new reality, he said.
“Even as we look at the gradual withdrawal of the lockdown, we should constantly remember that till we do not find a vaccine or a solution, the biggest weapon with us to the fight the virus is social distancing”, he said.
Prime Minister reaffirmed the importance of Do Gaz Ki doori and added that suggestion of night curfew raised by many CMs would surely reaffirm the feeling of caution among people.
He requested all the chief ministers for specific feedback on lockdown restrictions. “I request you all to share with me by 15th May, a broad strategy on how you each one of you would want to deal with the lockdown regime in your particular states. I want states to make a blue print on how to deal with various nuances during and after the gradual easing of the lockdown”, he said.
Prime Minister said, we will need an all-encompassing approach to deal with various challenges that will arise before us. With the onset of monsoon, there will be proliferation of many non-Covid-19 diseases, for which we must prepare and strengthen our medical and health systems.
He asked the policy makers to also keep in mind how to embrace new models of teaching and learning in the education sector.
Referring to tourism, the prime minister said he saw potential for domestic tourism but there is a need to think of the contours of the same.
He said, “I am of the firm view that the measures needed in the first phase of lockdown were not needed during the second phase and similarly the measures needed in the third phase are not needed in the fourth.”
Referring to the resumption of train services, the prime minister said, this is needed to rev up the economic activity, but said that all the routes will not be resumed. He said only a limited number of trains would ply.
The Prime Minister said he continues to feel optimistic, when not even a single state sounded despondent and that this collective determination will make India win in its fight against Covid-19.
Modi said that the post-Covid era also brings opportunities that India must leverage.