New Delhi: Flight operations, Railways and inter-state bus services are likely to remain suspended even after 14 April, when the nationwide lockdown is expected to end, ThePrint has learnt.
The move was discussed at a meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Covid-19 Tuesday, where Amit Shah and Nirmala Sitharaman, among others, were present. The GoM, headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, was held to review the situation and steps taken across the country to fight the virus.
This was the fourth meeting of the GoM on Covid-19 since March 25.
Although no decision was taken on either extending or lifting of the lockdown, the ministers discussed the exit strategy of how it can be lifted in phases.
According to a source in the government, everyone agreed that inter-state movement must be restricted to keep the spread of the virus in check.
“Even if certain restrictions are lifted, inter-state travel will not be allowed even post-14 April. This includes air and rail travel and inter-state bus movement. Because if that starts, people will start moving around the country, which can prove to be dangerous, considering the present circumstances,” the source said.
The source added that although there is a plan to ease certain restrictions by 14 April, complete lifting of the lockdown is “out of question”.
“The ministers agreed that complete lift of the lockdown is out of question. An exit strategy is being worked out on how to go about easing out restrictions and it will be done in phases,” he said.
Besides that, the need to enhance testing across the country, close monitoring using drones and easing restrictions on the movement of agricultural labourers was also discussed, sources told ThePrint.
Supply of essential goods
The GoM also discussed the supply of the essential goods to parts of the country.
“It was noted that essential commodities were available in sufficient quantities and no shortages were reported from anywhere in the country. Also, all supplies are being smoothly transported to parts of the country,” a second source told ThePrint.
The GoM also put forth their concerns over closely monitoring all religious places to keep a check on large gatherings.
“It was felt that places where the public tend to gather in large numbers such as religious centres should be closely monitored and any such gatherings be prevented,” the second source said. “Increased monitoring through drones was also suggested.”
According to the second source, the GoM also discussed measures to enhance testing facilities in medical laboratories.
“The GoM recommended measures to enhance testing facilities in medical laboratories. They are aware that this is the need of the hour and needs to be taken up on priority,” the second source said. “All state governments will be given directions accordingly.”
Although a decision was made to allow agricultural operations during the current harvest season, despite a lockdown, many farmers have not started work as the message has not trickled down to the grassroots level.
The GoM, in this meeting, also decided that the authorities concerned be briefed about how to convey the message to these farmers at the earliest.
“Though the government has said that agricultural operations can go on, considering that a person can very well practice social distancing while working in a field, the message has not trickled down to the grassroots level,” the source said.
“The GoM discussed the same in great detail and has decided to ask concerned authorities to spread the message among farmers that they can come out in the fields to work, while practicing social distancing.”
The GoM also expressed satisfaction over measures put in place to provide shelter and food to migrant workers.
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