Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has extended the country’s nationwide lockdown till May 3rd in a bid to contain the continued spread COVID-19.
Though Narendra Modi said that some states which have avoided outbreaks may be allowed to resume “important activities.”
Speaking in a televised address on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said it was vital that the virus is prevented from impacting parts of the country that remain unaffected.
“My request to all my countrymen is that coronavirus will not be allowed to spread across new areas at any cost,” said Modi, who wore a scarf as nose mask.
“We have to be very careful about hotspots. We will have to keep a close watch on the places that are expected to become hotspots.”
The 21-day lockdown for India’s 1.3 billion people came into force at the end of the day on March 24 and was set to expire on Tuesday, April 14.
Since the lockdown was enforced, only essential services have been operational – water, electricity, health services, fire services, grocery stores and municipal services.
All regular shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices, markets and places of worship have been closed and interstate buses and metros have been suspended. Construction activity was also halted during this period.
“Until May 3, all of us will have to remain in lockdown. During this time, we have to follow the same discipline as we have been doing,” Modi said.
Following Modi’s address, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation tweeted that all domestic and international scheduled flights will remain suspended until end of day on May 3.
Similarly, India’s Ministry of Railways tweeted that all passenger train services will also remain suspended until then.
Before the speech, several Indian states had ordered extended lockdowns until April 30, in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading. Those included Maharashtra, which has reported 2,334 cases and 160 deaths — the worst outbreak in the country.
While the lockdown measures will continue, Modi said that some states and districts that have shown to have avoided an outbreak “could be allowed to resume select necessary activities” but with conditions.
“Until April 20, every town, every police station, every district, every state will be evaluated on how much the lockdown is being followed. The extent to which the region has protected itself from coronavirus will be noted,” Modi said.
“The rules for going out will be very strict. Permission will be withdrawn immediately if lockdown rules are broken, and spread of coronavirus risked.”
The Prime Minister did not offer any specifics but said “detailed guidelines” will be issued by the government on Wednesday, 15th.
A likely scenario could be exceptions for sectors such as farming, which is key to food production, the economy as well as the livelihoods of millions of agriculture workers.
“While creating the new guidelines, we have kept in mind the interests of the poor and daily wage workers,” Modi said. “The harvesting of winter crops is also underway. The central government and the state governments are working together to ensure farmers face minimal problems.”