NEW DELHI :
The Centre on Monday extended the lockdown in containment zones till the end of July but tried to minimize movement restrictions to boost economic activity, while allowing states to take appropriate steps based on their assessment of the situation.
The set of guidelines, issued by the Union home ministry, made it clear that states have the right to add more restrictions depending on their assessment of the situation while social distancing will stay as the norm in public places.
The Centre eased night-time curfew and allowed more than five persons at a time at shops in the second phase of the easing of restrictions, starting 1 July.
Services like metro rail, cinema halls and gyms will stay closed throughout July. The Centre will specify the dates for reopening them with safeguards in due course. All schools, colleges and coaching centres will stay shut till end of July, but government training centres will open on 15 July. Night curfew will start at 10 pm from 1 July, as against 9 pm as per current guidelines, and last till 5 AM.
States and Union Territtories, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain activities outside the containment zones, or impose restrictions as deemed necessary. However, there shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods.
The authorities will need to carefully demarcate containment zones to allow only essential activities.
Social distancing will continue with India’s new lockdown playbook involving a phased reopening, with the onus largely shifting to states.
The two-month lockdown, the world’s largest and strictest, was the focal point of India’s strategy to contain the virus that originated in Wuhan, China.
Green shoots had sprouted in the economy since the country began easing restrictions after a lengthy lockdown. Macroeconomic indicators such as fuel, electricity consumption, mobility and retail financial transactions have seen an uptick.
The central government has drawn flak from some quarters for its handling of the lockdown. Many believe that while the lockdown was necessary, it was unplanned and led to mass exodus from cities, and the government’s ₹20 trillion stimulus package overlooked the plight of hapless migrant workers.
The government has reached out to financially weaker sections, migrant workers and farmers, even as the lockdown hurt small businesses, major job creators and the backbone of the Indian economy.
India started unlocking its economy in phases beginning 8 June, allowing more economic activities in order to spur consumer spending. States feel that there is a need for a staggered withdrawal from the lockdown and maintaining a fine balance between opening up of economic activities and doing more tests.
(With inputs from Gyan Varma & Anuja)