To lockdown or not? States in a bind as COVID-19 cases surge across the country

People wearing protective masks walk on a platform at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mumbai, India, March 16, 2021. Reuters/Niharika Kulkarni

On Saturday, India recorded a new daily high of 1,45,384 COVID-19 cases, with the infection tally surging to 1,32,05,926. This marked a steady increase for the 31st day in a row, with the number of active cases breaching the 10-lakh mark again after around six-and-a-half months. This fresh surge has triggered a dilemma of sorts for the states: Should there be a fresh lockdown to combat this rise? After holding an all-party meeting on Saturday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had indicated the imposition of a strict lockdown in the state given the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, underlining the need to save the lives of people and clamping of strict restrictions to break the transmission chain of coronavirus. He will take a decision after consulting the state COVID-19 task force today. A weekend lockdown already exists in the state, as it does in Madhya Pradesh and others.

How have different states, from Delhi to Gujarat and Goa reacted to the situation, balancing the age-old question of lives and livelihoods?


Prohibition of all types of gatherings, reduced size of weddings and funerals, running of public transport at half seating capacity and scaled down presence in government offices were some of the restrictions imposed by the Delhi government on Saturday. An order issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), however, allowed students of class IX-XII to be called to schools for guidance by teachers. Except this, all Delhi government and private schools will remain closed till April 30.

The Directorate of Education (DoE) said that the order issued by it on Friday suspending all academic and examination activities "stands". A negative RT-PCR report, not older than 72 hours prior to undertaking a journey, will be compulsory for persons arriving from Maharashtra to Delhi by air. Those found without a negative report will have to remain quarantine for 14 days, the order said.

The COVID-19 situation in Delhi has been assessed and it has been observed that there has been a persistent rise in cases during the recent past and therefore, it has became necessary to take certain emergency measures to prevent and contain the spread of the virus in the interest of public health, it stated.

The prohibited activities specified in the order came into force with immediate effect and will continue till April 30 or till further orders. All schools, colleges, educational, training, coaching institutions will remain closed, the order stated.


The Gujarat government is not in favour of imposing a lockdown in the state, considering its impact on the poor, despite the rise in coronavirus positive cases, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Saturday. However, he welcomed the voluntary imposition of lockdowns at a local level by villages or market associations in cities.

"The state government is not willing to impose a lockdown in the state considering the problems faced by the poor people. We have already imposed a curfew for 10 hours in a day to restrict the unnecessary movement of people," Rupani said when asked if the government was thinking of clamping a lockdown in view of the rising cases. Rupani was speaking to reporters after flagging off 20 new 'Dhanvantari' vans which will conduct coronavirus tests in public places and also suggest treatment.

"If any market association imposes a lockdown at a local level or if any village imposes such a measure, it is welcome to do so," the chief minister said. Amid the upswing in cases, many villages, housing societies and market organisations in Gujarat have declared lockdowns in their respective areas.


Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had earlier stated that the coastal state will not go for a lockdown, as the move will disrupt the economic activities. Sawant recalled that during the same time last year, the state had been under a coronavirus-induced lockdown, due to which the entire economy had come to a standstill. Economic activities are getting revived in the coastal state and another lockdown will disrupt them, he said. "There was drop in the collection of the GST, while industries such as tourism had suffered a jolt. We want to avoid the situation," the chief minister said. The virus cannot be controlled merely with a lockdown, but with steps like prevention and vaccination, he said.

Madhya Pradesh

Lockdowns exist in select areas of the state. The Madhya Pradesh government had extended the lockdown in several cities, including commercial hub Indore, till April 19 amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the state. At present, the lockdown is in force in all urban areas of the state till 6am on Monday.

Lockdown will be in force in Indore city, Rau, Mhow, Shajapur city and some districts like Ujjain, Barwani, Rajgarh and Vidisha till 6am on April 19. Lockdown will be in force from April 12 till the morning of April 22 in Balaghat, Narsinghpur and Seoni districts as well as Jabalpur city, and orders under section 144 of CrPC will be issued by respective collectors soon, Rajora added.

With inputs from PTI

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