Millennium Post

Limited lockdown in some areas after April 14?

New Delhi: Nine days into the national Coronavirus lockdown, with imminent economic distress across sectors, discussions have commenced in the government on the way forward at the end of the 21-day period, including an exit strategy.

Giving a glimpse of one possible option, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Chief Ministers during a video-conference on Thursday that it is "important to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once the lockdown ends".

He asked the states to brainstorm and send suggestions for the same. Within his government, meanwhile, a "limited lockdown" in some areas is an option that seems to be gaining ground, at this point.

But what forms these "limits" would depend on a host of factors, the key being the nature of the spread of the virus.

One opinion currently within the government seems to be that while it may not be possible to reach a zero-new-case situation by April 14, the best option would be to focus on specific "pockets" to contain the spread.

"If we can identify pockets like these across the country — there may be several hundred of them — and if I am reasonably satisfied that the rest of the country can go about their business, then these pockets will remain the only ones left with restrictions," a highly placed government source was quoted in a report.

Meanwhile, Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday had said that airlines can take domestic bookings after April 14 if the 21-day lockdown is not extended further. As far as the Civil Aviation ministry is concerned, it is proceeding based on the understanding that the lockdown is till mid-April, Puri said while addressing a video press conference.

The Indian Railways has also started bookings for passenger trains from April 15 onwards as the 21-day lockdown announced by the Prime Minister ends on April 14, a news report mentioned.

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