‘Empowered Group’ meeting today to discuss exit strategy post shutdown

New Delhi: The government has convened a meeting of the ‘Empowered Group on Strategic Issues Related to Lockdown’, to be chaired by the home secretary, on Monday to discuss an exit strategy after the lockdown, indicating that Centre may be looking at a calibrated way to open up the country at the end of the 21-day period of restrictions.

“The meeting will be chaired by home secretary Ajay Bhalla and will have Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant along with secretaries from 13 departments including economic affairs, health, DPIIT, pharmaceuticals, I&B, MeitY, labour & employment, and railway board chairman, among other government representatives,” a senior government official aware of the matter told ET.

“On the industry side, FICCI and CII have been asked to bring their proposals to the table,” the official added.

Officials familiar with the matter said the government was looking at a calibrated way to open up the country, and wanted to do so in consultation with the industry.

The meeting between the senior most bureaucrats of the country and the industry comes within days of Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking states to come up with strategies to lift the lockdown in phased manner while ensuring that risk to human lives through spread of Covid-19 is minimised. By Sunday evening, the Covid-19 affected cases in India had jumped to 3,374 with the death toll mounting to 79, according to the health ministry.

“The lockdown has given the government time to put up the infrastructure required to deal with the onslaught of the epidemic…now the efforts are also being redirected to starting the economic engine, obviously it can’t be paused indefinitely and the meeting is scheduled to discuss what should the strategy be going forward,” another official said.

Officials said that each industry needs to be looked differently and the ones where human contact can be minimised will get precedence such as air cargo travel versus passenger flights.

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