Local inputs crucial to easing lockdown restrictions from April 20

New Delhi: Gradual resumption of economic activity in the country will be based on the assessment by local administrations regarding control of Covid-19 on the ground, said people with knowledge of the matter. The key economic ministries are in favour of opening up agriculture and sectors that employ large numbers of people, reasoning that this is critical to ensure the wellbeing of Indians.

The government is expected to announce some details soon regarding selective resumption of economic activity from April 20, though a nationwide lockdown will be in force until May 3.

“Gradual and graded opening up is the key in line with risk assessment… A complete shutdown can have wider ramifications for the economy,” said a government official. PM Modi told the nation on Tuesday that areas where the outbreak was under control could see some relaxation in lockdown conditions after April 20. During his meeting with chief ministers, Modi had amended the slogan ‘Jaan hai toh jahan hai’ to ‘Jaan bhi aur jahan bhi’, implying that economic activity cannot remain stalled forever, said the official. This would be the guiding principle, he said.

Stringent Protocols

Many countries, including Denmark and Spain, have announced plans to lift lockdowns.

Various stakeholder ministries including finance, commerce & industry, health and home, besides Niti Aayog, have held several rounds of discussion on opening up some sectors of industry.

Detailed guidelines to be issued by the ministry of home affairs, which favours a total lockdown along with the health ministry, will spell out the strategy and method of easing the lockdown.

Stringent protocols will have to be followed by businesses that will be allowed to undertake activity in permitted zones. District administrations will have to facilitate functioning while ensuring that guidelines applicable in the area are followed, said the officials.

Zones will be categorised into red, amber and green, depending on infection levels. Based on this, certain activities suggested by the Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT) and the ministries of micro, small & medium enterprises, agriculture and food processing will be allowed.

For example, Goa said on Tuesday that it’s a green zone with no cases, and thus eligible to gradually open up with strict vigil maintained at the border. A similar opening-up could follow for green zones in other parts of the country. Industry has told the government it will require some time to restart operations, according to a CII official. It can work on a district-wise resumption strategy after local administrations carry out their assessments.

Source Article

Lois C. Ferrara

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