Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation at 8 pm today, a day after his six-hour meeting with Chief Ministers on the road ahead after May 17, when the nationwide coronavirus lockdown is due to end. This will be his third such address since he announced the lockdown in late March to slow the spread of the highly infectious COVID-19.
PM Modi had hinted in yesterday’s meeting that the lockdown – extended twice — would continue, but with far less restrictions.
“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,” the Prime Minister said, according to a statement released after the meeting.
Restrictions like a night curfew and limited public transport may continue in areas worst affected by COVID-19, sources said.
All Chief Ministers spoke at the meeting and while some favoured continuing the tough restrictions, many talked about easing restrictions significantly except in the red zones, or those with maximum infections. Transport, shops and other economic activity should be reopened gradually in zones designated green or orange, with relatively less virus cases, the Chief Ministers said.
PM Modi has asked states to share by May 15 (Friday) a broad strategy on how they would want to deal with the lockdown regime. “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.
“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,” PM Modi said.
“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 added.
After his last meeting with Chief Ministers in April, the government had relaxed the rules for businesses and transport.
Coronavirus cases in India crossed 70,000 today.
The lockdown, the world’s biggest, was enforced on March 25, with the government asking people to go out only for food and medicines.