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Lockdown likely to be extended till May 30

Best practice:A vegetable seller using hand sanitiser in New Delhi before heading out on Friday.Sushil Kumar VermaSushil Kumar Verma

Best practice:A vegetable seller using hand sanitiser in New Delhi before heading out on Friday.Sushil Kumar VermaSushil Kumar Verma  

Considerable relaxations likely in green and orange zones

The lockdown is likely to be extended till May 30 with considerable relaxations in the green and orange zones. An announcement to this effect is likely to be made on Saturday, officials told The Hindu .

An official said lockdown 4.0 would be more about implementing its “spirit” than imposing restrictions.

The current third phase of the lockdown, which was imposed first on March 24 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, ends on May 17.

Metro rail services in cities would continue to remain suspended as most routes fall in the containment zones, which would continue to be under “curfew-like” conditions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought suggestions from the State governments and they were asked to convey their views by 5 p.m. on Friday. “The suggestions from most States have been received and they have advocated an extension of the lockdown. Every official is concerned that if the lockdown is lifted in one go, the number of COVID-19 cases could spike. The medical infrastructure cannot deal with that kind of pressure,” said the official.

Guidelines today

The guidelines to be followed during lockdown 4.0 would be finalised by the Prime Minister and released by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday.

The Union government was in favour of opening select routes for air travel but several States were opposed to the idea. “Ultimately, the States receiving and sending the passenger will have to decide. They are still reluctant but there are many cases where people are genuinely stuck and have to take the journey. Maybe, airline seats will come at a premium, as social distancing, such as keeping middle seats vacant, will have to be followed”, said the official.

Buses would not be allowed in red zones. Autorickshaws and cab aggregators are likely to be allowed in all zones with maximum two passengers.

Malls would continue to remain shut. “Trains will continue to operate on the current model, only allowed on special routes. It will not be a free for all,” said the official. “The issue of migrants walking on the road is a big issue. The States have been asked to utilise around Rs. 11,092 crore released to them under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for their welfare,” the official noted.

The green zones are districts with either zero confirmed cases till date, or no confirmed case in the last 21 days.

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