Curbs only in hotspots in Lockdown 5.0? Perhaps yes
As Lockdown 4.0 is nearing its climax on May 31, states and Centre are now pondering over the most important question — how much of relaxations must be given to stop an exponential rise of COVID-19 cases while also helping the bruised economy? States are of the opinion that curbs must remain only in hotspots. They are still waiting for directives from the Centre.
As reported earlier, the Centre could cease the hand-holding exercise and allow states to take decisions locally. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government will still decide on broader issues like resuming schools/colleges, and the re-opening of religious places. Amid the speculations, an HT report claimed states are mulling opening more markets, allowing more inter-state travel, and easing restrictions from commercial activities.
In Chhattisgarh, the government has decided to let shops open six days per week while following social distancing, from Thursday. A senior government official explained this move will help revive the economy and generate employment too. "The idea of restarting the maximum number of industries in the state was also discussed," the person said. In J&K, the administration is planning something similar.
Barring schools, shopping malls, gyms, restaurants, and multiplexes, all other activities could be resumed. "Quarantine rules, by and large, shall also remain the same, that is, 100 percent testing of returnees followed by 14-day administrative quarantine or paid quarantine," a person in the know said.
In Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has reportedly received requests from religious places like mosques, churches, seeking re-opening. But they will have to wait for some time. The television and film industry also wants relaxations, saying that the lockdown has left them devastated. In neighboring Karnataka, CM BS Yediyurappa wants shrines to open but said he would wait for Centre's orders.
Officials privy to the plans of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao indicated that all shops (except the ones in malls) will open, and movement of taxis and buses could restart too. Cinematography Minister T Srinivasa Yadav is hopeful shooting of films will resume from June 1. However, theaters will remain off-limits. To note, KCR had previously announced lockdown extensions even before the Centre.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan plans to split areas into non-curfew and curfew zones. In the non-curfew zones, almost all activities will be allowed. The state is also thinking to relax curfew timings. Movement is restricted between 7 pm and 7 am, and Rajasthan wants to give two more hours by allowing movement between 6 am and 8 pm. Separately, Odisha could continue with Lockdown 4.0 guidelines.
States like Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat haven't decided on the rules. Punjab's Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Satish Chandra said the state has been following the circular of Home Ministry and will wait for directions about the Lockdown 5.0. A large number of states want schools to open, to save an academic year. As summer vacations are underway, they have a cushion for planning.
Without even waiting for the directive, some states went on an overdrive. Yesterday, Karnataka reportedly asked for a ban on flights coming from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, but later issued a clarification that it only wanted fewer flights. Meanwhile, Haryana shut its border with Delhi, leading to a massive traffic jam on the roads connecting Delhi and Gurugram this morning.