Coronavirus: India stares at Lockdown 3.0 in hotspots

Coronavirus: India stares at Lockdown 3.0 in hotspots; 11 states in favour

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with the Chief Ministers of states via video conferencing to discuss the emerging situation and plan for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, in New Delhi, Monday, April 27, 2020. (PIB/PTI Photo)

India's gruelling 40-day lockdown, which is scheduled to end on May 3, could be extended further, but the focus of Lockdown 3.0 would be on continuing curbs in hotspots and easing them in green zones.

Four of the nine chief ministers who participated in the video conference interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to discuss the exit plan spoke in favour of extending the lockdown, while at least 11 states have batted for an extension.

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The Prime Minister will make a formal announcement on the decision to extend the lockdown on Saturday or Sunday.

Observing that the country has seen two lockdowns till now, Modi said "we have to think of the way ahead” and put the onus on the states to formulate an exit strategy. 

“As per experts, the impact of coronavirus will remain visible in the coming months,” Modi said and stressed the need for constant vigil and strict enforcement of guidelines in the hotspots.

He said the efforts of the states should be directed towards converting the red zones into orange and thereafter to green, amid talk of having separate exit plans for each of the three zones.

The PM also expressed happiness over the fact that nearly 300 districts had no COVID-19 cases and termed these districts “sacred”.

Modi emphasised on the need to give importance to the economy while continuing the fight against coronavirus, saying that the country had managed to save thousands of lives due to the lockdown.

The PM also assured the states about the robustness of the country’s economy and asked them not to worry about resources.

States favour extension

Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Delhi, Telangana, Gujarat, Kerala, Meghalaya and Rajasthan want the restrictions to be extended, albeit with some more relaxations in non-hotspot areas. Many of them have sent written responses to the Centre.

On Monday, during the three-hour-long interaction, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik sought an extension for one more month. Kerala, where Idukki and Kottayam have been added as hotspot zones, wants a partial lockdown till May 15, while Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal is in favour of extending the lockdown till May 21. Telangana has already extended the lockdown till May 7.

Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, the only Congress Chief Minister who spoke in the meeting, said the general mood in the meeting was that the lockdown should continue with partial relaxations.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani also wanted the lockdown to be extended.

In his opening remarks, Home Minister Amit Shah reaffirmed the need to enforce lockdown guidelines so that maximum lives are saved.