“Exit 2.0, Not Lockdown 3.0”: Health Ministry’s Spin On Restrictions

'Exit 2.0, Not Lockdown 3.0': Health Ministry's Spin On Restrictions

Coronavirus lockdown: People wait in a queue to buy liquor in Prayagraj (AFP)

Highlights

  • On May 1, nationwide lockdown was extended for 2 more weeks
  • See it as easing of lockdown, not extension: Health Ministry
  • Some states eased restrictions since yesterday in non-hotspot zones

New Delhi:

The restrictions in the country after May 3 should not be seen as an extension of the lockdown but a lifting of it, the Union Health Ministry said today. On May 1, the Union Home Ministry had extended the lockdown for two more weeks, but allowed relief in non-hotspot zones. Responding to a question at the daily news briefing of the health ministry today, senior official Lav Agarwal said, “Call it Exit 2.0, not Lockdown 3.0”.

Most states – including national capital Delhi — have eased restrictions since yesterday, demarcating its extent on the basis of the ground situation.

Delhi has allowed standalone shops, private offices with 33 per cent workforce, self-employed people including domestic helps and technicians, and partial movement of private vehicles in non-hotspot zones.

Maharashtra, which has the maximum number of coronavirus cases in the country, has allowed private and government offices, standalone shops, urban industries, salons and beauty parlours in green and some orange zones.

The restrictions were first eased roughly a week after April 14, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a two-week extension of the lockdown. At the time, he had underscored the need for vigilance at the hotspots, but held out hope of relief if they pass the numbers test.

“Until 20th April, every town, every police station, every district, every state will be evaluated on how much the lockdown is being followed. The extent to which the region has protected itself from Coronavirus will be noted. Areas that will succeed in this litmus test… will maybe allowed to open up select necessary activities from 20th April,” he had said.

Over the days after April 20, the restrictions were eased to an extent across the country. Priority was given to industrial and the agriculture sectors, in view of the ongoing harvest season. Farmers were allowed to go out to fields and <i>mandis</i> were allowed to operate, maintaining strict social distancing norms.

In an order on April 18, the government listed out the areas where restrictions will be eased. Besides industry and agriculture, the list included the fishing industry, tea, coffee and rubber plantations, animal husbandry, MNREGA works, public utilities and construction activities.

Government offices – both state and central – were also allowed to open.

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