States may get more freedom to decide on exit from lockdown
Union minister of home affairs seeks suggestions from chief ministers
The union government is likely to offer more liberty to the states while planning the lockdown exit in June. Since lockdown-4 ends on May 31, the Centre will have to put a revised policy in place by Saturday or Sunday.
Sources said Union Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, has sought suggestions from the chief ministers of several states. The Centre was likely to lift restrictions, but with the condition that the states would not flout national health (COVID-19) guidelines, and a negative list which could be issued with new national orders, said the source.
Schools might not be opened
Shops, malls, multiplexes, schools/colleges, theatres and public gatherings have not been allowed and might not be allowed in the next phase also. The Maharashtra government may decide on hotels and restaurants. As far as Maharashtra is concerned, the restrictions have been eased in non-red zones in accordance with the Centre's guidelines. However, air travel has not been allowed fully with a limited number of flights operating from Mumbai and public transport remains shut in most places, including the state capital. Economic and industrial units have resumed in non-red zones but allied activities haven't gained momentum.
Previously, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had interacted with the CMs, but this time, Shah, whose ministry is responsible for national disaster management (he is head of the authority), has been tasked with planning next steps in consultation with states.
'Next phase not harsh'
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said on Friday that states were expecting more powers in deciding the next phase, which wouldn't be a harsh lockdown. State Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta had said early this week that the restrictions would be lifted in a calibrated manner. Political leadership in the state government has been divided over offering relaxations when the pandemic has grown in places like Mumbai. "The Maha Vikas Aghadi constituents have a different set of exit plans, economic and political concerns which they would have to process in unison to ease life without compromising the health crisis," said a senior officer in Mantralaya, adding the focus would be on lifting more restrictions bearing in mind that "we have to live with the novel Coronavirus".
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