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Saturday 4 July 2020

Lockdown in spirit: Shah asks Modi how to do it

The next phase of lockdown will be described as 'lockdown extension in spirit', remaining strict only in 11 cities that have nearly 70% of the country’s overall COVID-19 cases

Union Home Minister Amit Shah met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi today to discuss the lockdown strategy as India saw its biggest spike in Coronavirus cases with 7,466 infections in 24 hours. His meeting with the prime minister happens a day after he had asked chief ministers for feedback on the lockdown and their views on whether to extend it after 31 May.

During the meeting, Shah reportedly briefed Modi about the suggestions and the feedback he had received from the chief ministers during his telephonic conversations. “A majority of the chief ministers reportedly wanted the lockdown to continue in some form but also favoured opening up of the economic activities and gradual return of the normal life”, an official said.

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Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Shah held discussions over the strategy on the shutdown and opening up of economic activities amid the rising cases of coronavirus in the country. India had yesterday recorded the highest single-day spike with over 7,400 new infections, taking the total toll past 1.65 lakh.

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Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawat has, in the meantime, said that he had spoken to the home minister over the phone, demanding that the lockdown must be extended for another 15 days but with some relaxations such as reopening of restaurants at 50% capacity with social distancing norms in place.

Home Minister Shah had two days ago held a discussion with chief ministers to know their views on the further extension of the lockdown. He asked them for feedback from their respective states about the prevailing condition of the coronavirus pandemic in their state.

All the chief ministers gave their views on how they want to move forward after the Lockdown 4 ends.

Lockdown extension in spirit

Meanwhile, sources said the lockdown will be extended by two more weeks after 31 May. The next phase of lockdown will be described as “lockdown extension in spirit”, remaining stricter only in 11 cities that have nearly 70% of the country’s overall COVID-19 cases.

The cities in focus are Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata, along with Pune, Thane, Jaipur, Surat and Indore. Places of worship and gymnasiums may be allowed to open in ‘Lockdown 5.0’ but no religious congregation or any other mass gathering will be allowed, as per government officials quoted in the report.

The 21-day nationwide lockdown imposed from 25 March was to end on 14 April. However, it was extended to 3 May, then to 17 May and subsequently till 31 May.

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in India have crossed 1.65 lakh-mark as the toll surged to 1,65,799 including 4,706 deaths and 71,106 recovered, according to health ministry’s figures released on Friday.

With this massive spike in coronavirus infections, India has emerged as the ninth worst-hit country in the world by the pandemic. India has surpassed China’s reported death toll of 4,638.

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