India has extended the nationwide lockdown in view of the Covid-19 pandemic till May 3, 2020. The extension was announced on Tuesday morning by prime minister Narendra Modi after extensive consultations with state governments and local bodies.
The central government will announce the guidelines for the period on April 15, Modi said. They will include special provisions for migrant workers and daily wage workers who have lost their livelihood in the manufacturing and construction sectors, he added.
There may be a relaxation of the lockdown in some areas after April 20, if the hotspots are reduced and no new cases are reported, he said. The central government will keep a close watch on district and local level enforcement of lockdown measures, he added.
Highlights from the speech:
- Lockdown will be relaxed for farmers to harvest Rabi crop
- Adequate medical supplies and ration will be available during the lockdown period
- About one lakh hospital beds and 600 hospitals across the country have been earmarked to treat Covid-19 patients
- Homemade face masks must be used and Ayush ministry suggestions followed to boost immunity
- Centre’s Aarogya Setu app must be downloaded for effective Covid-19 risk assessment
Modi also urged employers to not dismiss employees during the lockdown period. Several industry groups, including trade body NASSCOM, representatives from the startup and investor community, trader associations as well as micro small and medium enterprises have been lobbying with the government for tax relief and other measures as the lockdown period has witnessed a slump in the economy.
The first phase of the lockdown, which began on March 24, and was scheduled to end on April 14, saw announcements on food security and tax relief measures by the Economic Response Task Force, which is headed by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The Reserve Bank of India also announced measures to increase liquidity in the market and curb inflation.
According to media reports, a second set of relief measures is expected to be announced by the task force soon.
To date, India has reported 10,363 positive cases of Covid-19, according to data shared by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. Maharashtra tops the list of affected states with the highest number of confirmed cases, followed by New Delhi and Tamil Nadu.