Two govt panels want Covid lockdown lifted

Except keeping schools, colleges, movie halls, the panels want lifting all other lockdown curbs.

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Except keeping schools, colleges, movie halls and religious places closed, the panels have recommended lifting all other lockdown curbs, people in the know said.
NEW DELHI: Two govt panels, tasked with managing medical emergency and availability of hospitals, isolation and quarantine facilities, have called for no further extension of the lockdown, the fourth edition of which is scheduled to end this weekend.

These two panels have submitted an exit strategy for Covid lockdown 4.0, which recommends continuation and even scaling up of containment measures in the worst-hit areas while allowing other places to open up.

Except keeping schools, colleges, movie halls and religious places closed, the panels have recommended lifting all other lockdown curbs, people in the know told ET. Allowing international travel has not been proposed.


The final decision will be taken in the next few days.

The home ministry had, in March, set up 11 empowered groups for planning and implementing Covid-19 response activities. The group on managing medical emergency is chaired by Niti Aayog member Vinod Paul, while the group on availability of hospitals, isolation and quarantine facilities, disease surveillance, testing and critical care is chaired by environment secretary CK Mishra.

“It has been suggested that there should be no nationwide lockdown going forward. However, certain areas where the cases are going up need stringent containment plans as well as aggressive tracing and testing,” said a member of one of the groups.
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‘Time to Revive the Economy’
“Except for schools, colleges, cinema halls and religious places — where social distancing cannot be maintained — we have recommended that the lockdown be lifted,” said the member of the empowered group cited earlier.

Officials said while the growing Covid-19 numbers — which have almost doubled in the past 10 days — are a cause for concern, the groups have also been studying the impact of the pandemic on the economy.

Another member of one of the groups said India’s lockdown was instituted at an earlier stage of the outbreak, compared with other countries. “Countries in the West delayed the lockdown and suffered greater human as well as economic losses. We, as a nation, have so far minimised mortality. However, it is time to make sure the economy is revived steadily and surely,” he added.
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On Thursday, the Cabinet secretary held a meeting with the secretaries of key government departments and heads of empowered groups, and also held a video conference with states where cases have risen exponentially including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

The meeting was focussed on the issue of public health response to coronavirus, which has infected more than 150,000 people and claimed 4,531 lives till now.
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The Centre had allowed considerable relaxations when it announced a two-week extension of the lockdown earlier this month. In the days that followed, it also reopened the domestic aviation sector.
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