New Delhi: The central government is considering an extension of the 21-day-lockdown period after April 14, government sources revealed on Tuesday. The government has been thinking in this direction after several state governments and experts requested it for an extension, news agency ANI reported.
However, putting all speculation to rest, Joint Secretary at the Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal on Tuesday said that no such decision has been taken so far and the media will be informed as and when any such decision is taken.
"Speculations surfacing on social media are confusing the people. As and when any decision is taken on the lockdown, we will bring it to your notice," Agarwal said.
Chief Ministers from different states have opined that with the spike in the number of coronavirus cases across the country, a phased withdrawal of the lockdown may be a more prudent way to tackle the outbreak.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday favoured a phased withdrawal of the lockdown, saying it cannot be done immediately after the 21-day period.
Addressing a press conference through video conferencing, he said saving lives is important and no step should be taken that would endanger lives.
He said a decision on withdrawing the lockdown will, however, be taken based on the recommendations of a task force.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that the lockdown will be extended beyond April 14 if it is necessary.
India had imposed a nationwide lockdown from March 25 to April 14 for three weeks after the coronavirus outbreak in the country. However, the rise in the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 4,421 and death toll to 114 have raised doubts that a complete removal of lockdown will be detrimental to the country at large.
Cautioning people to be ready for a "long fight" against COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday told his ministers to make plans for slowly exiting the ongoing lockdown and to contain the economic impact of the deadly virus pandemic, including by reducing dependence on other countries.
The global death toll from coronavirus topped 75,000 on Tuesday.
Kerala expert panel for phased withdrawal
In Kerala, the lockdown may be lifted in three phases from April 15, if the government approves the expert panel report. The panel submitted the report on Monday.
It recommended that the number of reported COVID-19 cases after lockdown and the people under observation should be considered before lifting the restrictions in each district.
The restrictions will be relaxed only if there are no hotspots in the respective district and the number of people under observation does not rise above 10 per cent in a span of one week.
The council of ministers will discuss the report on Wednesday. The criteria for the different phases and the restrictions are listed below.
Criteria for Phase I relaxation of lockdown
• There has been not more than one new case in that district for the entire week prior to the date of review. (For the first review on April 14, 2020, the relevant period will be April 7-13, 2020)
•There has been no increase more than 10 per cent of the number of persons under home surveillance
•There are no hotspots of COVID infection anywhere in the district as identified by the Health Department.
Criteria for Phase II relaxation of lockdown
• There has not been more than one new case of COVID infection in that district the entire fortnight prior to the date of review.
• There has been not more than 5 per cent increase in the number of persons under home surveillance
Criteria for Phase III relaxation of lockdown
• There has been no new case of COVID infection in that district for the fortnight prior to the date of review.
•There has been a decrease of more than 5 per cent of the number of persons under home surveillance
•There are no hotspots of COVID infection anywhere in the district
Phasing of Restrictions
1. No person shall travel outside the house without wearing face masks.
2. Anyone leaving his or her house will have to carry a valid piece of Identity (Aadhar, Passport Ration Card, Driving License etc.) to prove place of residence and explain purpose of travel.
3. Any establishment (private or public sector) operating shall mandatorily undertake proper measures of sanitation, providing masks and sanitisers, daily disposal of waste, provision of adequate supply of potable water as well as for cleaning purposes.
4. Occupancy of government vehicles should be restricted to two per vehicle excluding the driver and buses.
5. Buses/Vans carrying frontline care workers or other public servants should not exceed seating capacity of vehicle. All passengers shall wear masks while travelling.
6. Only one person per house will be allowed outside the house at a time for a specific purpose and for not more than 3 hours at a time (other than for exempted activities).
7. No person above 65 with any history of comorbidity (hypertension, diabetes) or undergoing any treatment for cancer or major ailments should be permitted movement outside house.
8. Movement of private vehicles should be restricted with odd-even scheme in two groups for Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
9. There should be total clampdown on all vehicle movement during Sunday other than for critical services and emergency operations.
10. No gathering for any purpose more than 5 persons should be permitted.
11. No religious congregations to be permitted and all places of worship shall remain closed.
12. Government offices and banks may reopen with staggered 50 per cent roster-based attendance and follow a five-day week.
13. Attendance at marriages and funerals should be restricted to 10 persons and that too only the nearest kith and kin may attend on such occasions.
14. Banks may follow 50 per cent attendance but with normal work hours
15. Airline and rail movement for passengers into the State should be totally disallowed.
16. No entry of any person from outside the State during this phase other than what is permitted currently.
17. Total employees at any work site (other than Government Offices) shall be restricted to ten persons or 25 per cent of staff strength whichever is higher. The owner of the establishment will be bound to observe this restriction.
18. Super Markets and Malls, Film Theatres, Bars, Conference Halls, and Centralised AC Rooms in hotels etc. with closed Air-Conditioning should not be permitted to be reopened.
19. Shops selling merchandise like Jewellery, Textiles, Electronics, Fancy ware should not be allowed to be opened during the first phase.
1. Autos and Taxis may be allowed but restricted to total of one and three passengers respectively.
2. Bus travel for short distance within a city or town may be permitted subject to a strict discipline of one person per seat only, without any standing passengers permitted and all passengers to compulsorily wear masks.
3. Activities under NREGS to be allowed with protocols (use of cloth masks and sanitisers)
4. All Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) shall be allowed to reopen with protocols (viz. use of cloth masks and sanitisers)
5. Attendance at marriages and funerals shall be strictly restricted to 20 persons.
6. Total employees at any work site or private organisation shall be restricted to 20 persons or 25% of staff strength whichever is higher.
7. To ensure physical health, people may be permitted to walk for at least half an hour in the immediate vicinity (within a radius of 0.5 km) of their residence before 7:30 am in the morning, keeping a safe distance of at least two meters from the nearest person.
1. Inter-district bus transport may be allowed with 2/3rd capacity subject to observing social distance protocols such as compulsory face masks, hand sanitizers and no standing passenger policy etc.
2. Domestic flights for essential passengers, doctors, health workers, patients etc. may be permitted to be operated at 50 per cent of the seating capacity of the vehicle.
3. International air travel and travel from other parts of India by air may not be allowed till full relaxation of lockdown restrictions in the State.
4. Entry into the State may be allowed but all new entrants to the state should undergo 14-day home quarantine.
5. Universities, Schools and Colleges shall be opened ONLY for the purpose of holding Examinations.
6. All IT companies may be allowed to open partially. Staff engaged in production and development of software applications should continue to work from home.
7. Shopping malls/stores may be allowed to function with restriction of one person from a family going inside, limiting total number that can be in a store/shop at a time for ensuring one metre physical distance at least between customers.
8. A system of taking prior appointment through phone and online should be introduced so that shopkeepers can space the number of customers visiting the shop.
9. Hostel and residential facilities may be opened.
10. Online sale of liquor may be started by BEVCO.
11. Religious congregations in and outside mosques, temples, churches etc., large marriages, political meetings or conferences or cultural gatherings shall continue to be prohibited during this phase.