April 12, 2020 4:04:21 am
While several states on Saturday preferred an extended lockdown, and others urged the Centre to extend it till at least the month-end, Haryana and Kerala governments sought a graded relaxation.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the state has decided to ease the lockdown in the coming days, at least in some districts, over two weeks beginning April 15, while his Kerala counterpart, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the state has demanded a special economic package. “In places identified as hotspots, the present restrictions should continue until April 30. In other districts, the state should be given freedom to allow activities ensuring social distancing. The state government should be given the authority to grant that,’’ Vijayan said.
This comes on a day the Centre said it is considering a request by most states to extend the nationwide lockdown by two more weeks beyond April 14, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interaction with the CMs.
Khattar, after participating in the video conference, said that depending on the number of COVID-19 cases reported, his government will create three zones in the state to ease restrictions in certain areas.
The state will be trifurcated into Red Zone (comprising districts with maximum cases), Orange Zone (districts vulnerable and with increasing number of infections), and Green Zone (districts with negligible number of cases).
Green Zone districts will have maximum relaxations, even though restriction on movement of people will continue to remain in force, Khattar said. “For instance, districts such as Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Nuh, which have most COVID-19 cases, will be in Red Zone. We will have to impose certain strict measures in these areas to curtail further spread of the virus,” he said.
At least four Haryana districts — Mahendragarh, Rewari, Kurukshetra and Yamunanagar — have not reported any confirmed case as yet.
Khattar also said that “social distancing committees” will be constituted at district level to assess the impact of the virus’ spread in their respective areas. “Factories, industries, MSMEs and other establishments can be allowed to function if they provide food and accommodation to their workforce on the premises. Small scale industries can be allowed to function, but they will have to strictly follow the norms of social distancing,” he said.
Vijayan told Modi during the interaction that migrant workers want to return to their home states, so non-stop trains should be allowed for their return after April 14. He also said the state government will accept all suggestions made by the Centre.
He said: “The Prime Minister said the next three to four weeks are very crucial in controlling the spread of COVID-19. The state is of the opinion that time is not ripe to go back to the pre-lockdown days. Lockdown should be lifted only step by step.”
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