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India's Covid tally crosses 60L; fresh relaxations in the offing in Unlock 5

New Delhi: India is nearing the conclusion of the fourth stage of nationwide Unlock, which will come to an end on September 30. Unlock 4, which began on September 1, saw the Centre give various significant relaxations like the resumption of Metro services for the first time since late March and partial reopening of schools for Classes IX-XII.

India's Covid tally galloped past 60 lakh on Monday with 82,170 new cases, while the number of recoveries surged to 50.17 lakh after 74,893 more people recuperated, the Union Health ministry said.

The death toll climbed to 95,542 with 1,039 more deaths. There are 9,62,640 active cases of the disease, comprising 15.85 per cent of the caseload, according to the ministry data.

The total cases mounted to 60,74,702, while 50,16,520 people have recuperated, taking the recovery rate to 82.58 per cent. The case fatality rate declined to 1.57 per cent, it said.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 7.20-crore samples have been tested so far, with 7.09-lakh tests being conducted on Sunday.

Now, with the fifth stage of Unlock set to begin from October 1, speculations are mounting over new relaxations that the Centre may allow. Last week, in his virtual meet with Chief Ministers of seven worst-affected states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested steps be undertaken for the implementation of the idea of 'micro-containment' zones.

With festive season round the corner, there are expectations that the Centre would open up more activities for Unlock 5.

While the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had allowed public places like malls, salons, restaurants and gyms to open with restrictions, more economic activities are likely to be allowed from October with physical distancing.

In his meeting with the Chief Ministers, Modi had stressed on reassessing containments and lockdowns in a way that curbs Covid spread. However, he had further mentioned that because of this, economic activities should not face problems.

Despite fervent appeals by the Multiplex Association of India, the MHA had given permission only for open-air theatres to resume operations, from September 21.

On Saturday, Bengal became the first state to allow theatres and cinema halls to reopen from October 1.

In a major decision, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday reportedly allowed 4 lakh restaurants, bars and eateries in the state to start operations from the first week of October, just ahead of Navaratri starting October 17. The decision came in after a meeting between industry organisations and Thackeray.

The decision will thus bring curtains on the major section of lockdown — the hospitality industry — which was struggling to get back to normalcy since unlocking has begun in phases.

Several schools and colleges across the country reopened from September 21 for students from Class IX-XII on voluntary basis, and it is expected to continue for the next month. However, according to people aware of developments, primary classes will continue to stay closed for a few more weeks.

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