New Delhi: Nine days after imposing a nationwide lockdown to stop the novel coronavirus pandemic, prime minister Narendra Modi on Thursday indicated that a staggered end to it is on the anvil.
Modi held a discussion with chief ministers by video on Covid-19 preparedness and sought their suggestions on a common exit strategy. He said the reopening of the country should be phased.
"It is important to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-
emergence of the population once the lockdown ends," Modi said as he asked the states to brainstorm and send suggestions.
The CMs will revert with their suggestions which will be discussed in the next meeting. No date was set for when that will be.
Sources said the government is keen that any decision on a staggered opening up be arrived at with the agreement of states.
In a phased easing of the lockdown, people residing in identified hotspots may not be allowed to move out immediately. Also, restrictions will remain in place for senior citizens above the age of 65 years and children below 10.
While the government and private sector may start functioning, restrictions on air and train travel will be eased gradually.
Indications are that the government will allow domestic flights to start operating. "We are hoping that on April 15 flights can start operating," minister of state for civil aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said.
Travel aggregators have already started showing airlines tickets availability and pricing from April 15 onwards.
During the meeting with the PM, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray suggested that all large gatherings should remain prohibited and religious leaders should be asked to refrain from holding any meets.
In tweet, which he later deleted, Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu indicated that the lockdown will end but restrictions will remain. "Completion of lockdown will end on April 15 next. But it doesn’t mean free-will to move out on streets. We all must be responsible in slowing down. Lockdown and social distancing in (sic) the only way to fight Covid-19," he had tweeted.