The coronavirus lockdown in India going forward is likely to appear as a gradual relaxation of the existing restrictions in a phased manner, as the country’s death toll continues to creep upwards.
The lockdown was initiated on March 24th in an address to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, describing the measure as “a necessary step in the decisive fight against corona pandemic.” Subsequently, the lockdown was extended till May 3rd.
Some restrictions have been loosened since the extension. Some stores in certain residential areas (excluding those in coronavirus hotspots and containment zones) were permitted to reopen on Saturday, on the proviso that the appropriate physical distancing measures were followed and masks and gloves were provided. Some labouring activities, such as in agriculture, have also been allowed to resume.
Prime Minister Modi reviewed the coronavirus lockdown measures with Chief Ministers earlier this week. “We saw a two-stage lockdown, with strict measures in the first phase and then some relaxations in the second,” Modi said. “Good work has been done in the states.” Going forward, he said that “efforts of states should now be directed towards converting the red zones into orange and thereafter to green zones.”
The Union Government undertook a coding system to designate areas of the country, including coronavirus hotspots (red zones) where there are either clusters of fewer than fifteen patients or those experiencing large-scale outbreaks – such as having multiple clusters or more than fifteen confirmed cases. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Sunday reported that, in addition to 300 districts untouched by coronavirus, there are 197 districts not classified as hotspots.
“We have to give importance to the economy as well as continue the fight against COVID-19,” Modi said. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). As for protective measures to combat the virus, he informed Chief Ministers, “[the] impact of COVID-19 will remain visible in the coming months. Masks and face covers will be part of life.”
Modi told Chief Ministers thousands of lives had been saved in the last month-and-a-half during the fight against coronavirus. However, he urged citizens during a Mann Ki Baat radio address to “not get overconfident. You should in your over-enthusiasm not think that if the coronavirus has not yet reached your city, village, street or office, it is not going to reach now,” he said. “Never make such a mistake. The experience of the world tells us a lot in this regard.”