COVID-19: Lockdown likely to be extended by two weeks in India

PM Modi during a video conference
PM Modi during a video conference

SRINAGAR — The Central Government is all set to extend the lockdown by two more weeks beyond its April 14 deadline till April 30. Sources said that an official announcement will soon be made in this regard.

The Centre, however, is likely to allow certain relaxations in view of the lockdown-induced economic crisis in the country.

The decision comes shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video conference with chief ministers of all the States and Union Territories (UTs) on the coronavirus pandemic today. Most of the chief ministers demanded an extension of the lockdown till April 30.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal lauded the move, stating that Prime Minister has taken the right decision as it was important. “PM has taken the correct decision to extend lockdown. Today, India’s position is better than in many developed countries because we started lockdown early. If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost. To consolidate, it is important to extend it,” Kejriwal tweeted.

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In an earlier meeting with the floor leaders of all political parties in the Parliament, PM Modi had said that experts, States and district administrators have recommended prolonging the nationwide restriction on the movement of citizens from the original April 14 deadline. The Prime Minister had likened the situation to a “social” and “economic” emergency in the country.

Nearly all of the chief ministers including Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab’s Amarinder Singh and Uddhav Thackeray from Maharashtra which is the worst-hit in COVID-19 pandemic, urged Modi to prolong the lockdown in view of increasing cases of the viral infection across the country.

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While Kejriwal wanted the restrictions to continue till April 30, he said extending the curfew only in Delhi and not elsewhere will not serve the purpose and it should be prolonged nationwide.

Punjab’s Captain Amarinder Singh too backed calls for extension of restrictions, adding the same can be eased in three or four phases. Punjab conducted a cabinet meeting on Friday and later declared the State might be witnessing cases of community transmission.

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