Putting the entire country on a performance appraisal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the nationwide lockdown will be extended till May 3 and laid the roadmap for easing of restrictions in coronavirus-free regions after April 20.
In the address the Prime Minister said areas where people follow social distancing norms with discipline and which have held their own against the Coronavirus pandemic may be the first to open after April 20 as the government tries to balance containment measures to control the spread of the virus with reopening of the economy.
The already-stringent lockdown, the Prime Minister said, would be even stricter for the next one week, after which the decision will be taken on relaxation of restrictions based on how the successfully the lockdown was implemented.
“Over the next one week we will observe the social distancing norms with an even greater discipline. Till April 20 every town, district and state will be closely observed. We will examine the places where lockdown is being observed. We will make a note of the places that have successfully prevented the spread of Coronavirus and in such areas from April 20 we will give permission to resume some important services,” Modi said.
But these permissions will be subject to continued strict observance of the social distancing norms, he added. “There will be very strict guidelines on how people step out of their homes. If those guidelines are not followed properly, if social distancing norms are not observed and coronavirus is seen to be heading towards these areas, then all permission to such places will be withdrawn,” Modi said.
For the rest of the country, the social distancing norms and lockdown will continue till May 3.
In effect the Prime Minister has incentivised strict observance of social distancing norms. Those who will follow the norms and keep Coronavirus away from their neighbourhoods will be the first to start economic activity in their areas.
“We should not be careless nor should we allow anyone around us to be careless, in our collective fight against Coronavirus pandemic,” Modi said in his address.
He said that the extension in lockdown was the result of the feedback he got from his regular interactions with the Chief Ministers of various states and from the general public.
He also said that a detailed report on the lockdown and its guidelines will be issued on Wednesday. The interest of poorer sections of the society, including daily-wagers, will be taken up as top priority along with the interests of farmers who will be busy in harvesting the rabi crop, Modi said.
Highlighting the steps his government had taken in fighting the deadly virus, Modi said that timely steps have meant that India’s situation is better than many developed nations. He said along with containment through lockdown, health infrastructure has been improved by leaps and bound.
He said labs have come up, beds have increased and more than 600 hospitals are working for coronavirus treatment. These facilities are being added upon every day. “Even with our limited resources, I request young scientists to come forth and help in creating coronavirus vaccine,” he added.