States tread care­fully, likely to re­de­fine zones after May 17

Kar­nataka may open ho­tels and gyms after May 17, Ra­jasthan wants in­ter-district travel al­lowed

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - SPOTLIGHT - Chetan Chauhan chetan@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: State gov­ern­ments on Wed­nes­day started work­ing on their strat­egy for the fourth phase of the lock­down, which is ex­pected to largely af­fect only the con­tain­ment zones, which range from a build­ing to a lo­cal­ity, and which is also ex­pected to see the re­sump­tion of al­most all ac­tiv­i­ties, ex­cept large so­cial gath­er­ings and the re­open­ing of ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

Of­fi­cials in sev­eral states said guide­lines defin­ing con­tain­ment zones would come by Satur­day. They said a district may have red, or­ange and green ar­eas, un­like the ex­ist­ing def­i­ni­tion where an en­tire district is de­fined as red, or­ange or green, de­pend­ing on num­ber of Covid cases. HT learns that states may be al­lowed to take a call on this clas­si­fi­ca­tion ; cur­rently the zon­ing is done by the union health min­istry.

The of­fi­cials, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied said their states would likely al­low all in­dus­trial ac­tiv­i­ties, of­fices, and stand­alone stores to func­tion from May 18 on­wards. Pub­lic trans­port will also re­sume, they said. And peo­ple will be al­lowed to travel freely be­tween dis­tricts, ex­cept in con­tain­ment zones, and to other states with travel passes. And home de­liv­ery of all goods, not just es­sen­tials, would be al­lowed, the of­fi­cials added.

HT spoke to 18 of­fi­cials across 15 states. All the of­fi­cials said ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions would con­tinue to re­main closed. Most schools in the north close around the mid­dle of May in any case; and those in the south that usu­ally re­open in June may take a call on whether or not to do so closer to the end of the month, they added.

Re­li­gious and po­lit­i­cal meet­ings are un­likely to be al­lowed for some more time. Malls and other pub­lic places will also re­main out of bounds. Mar­riages and fu­ner­als will be al­lowed with lim­ited at­ten­dees, the of­fi­cials said.

Some states may have state­spe­cific re­lax­ations.

For in­stance, the Kar­nataka gov­ern­ment wants in­ter­state travel with a 14-day quar­an­tine. The Ra­jasthan gov­ern­ment has al­lowed in­ter-district travel and wants in­ter­state travel, as does the Ch­hat­tis­garh gov­ern­ment. Kerala wants re­stricted in­ter­state travel . Bi­har and Jhark­hand are against any in­ter­state move­ment and have asked the Cen­tre to pro­vide guid­ance.

Telangana, which has ex­tended the lock­down till May 29, is likely to an­nounce more re­lax­ations in sec­tors such as in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and real es­tate. Kerala wants the re­sump­tion of metro ser­vices, lo­cal trains, do­mes­tic flights, restau­rants and ho­tels to re­vive the tourism sec­tor. Kar­nataka may open restau­rants, ho­tels and gym­na­si­ums and golf cour­ses after May 17. Andhra has pro­posed re­sump­tion of all ac­tiv­i­ties ex­cept in con­tain­ment ar­eas. Both Hi­machal and Ut­tarak­hand will al­low ho­tels and re­sorts to open with lim­ited ca­pac­ity.

In ef­fect, a weekly at­las of what’s open and what’s not, and in which state, may be needed.

Gu­jarat, which has sec­ond high­est num­ber of Covid-19 cases in the coun­try, wants to re­sume all eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in ma­jor ur­ban cen­tres ex­cept Ahmed­abad, which ac­counts for 70% of the state’s cases. Ra­jkot will fully open from Thurs­day and Su­rat from Mon­day, of­fi­cials said. Tamil Nadu, an­other highly in­dus­tri­alised state and with the third high­est num­ber of cases in the coun­try, plans to open all places ex­cept con­tain­ment ar­eas.

Ma­ha­rash­tra, which has the max­i­mum num­ber of Covid-19 cases in the coun­try and 1,289 con­tain­ment ar­eas, has opted for a min­i­mal­is­tic ap­proach.State of­fi­cials said it does not want metro ser­vices to re­sume, nor will it al­low in­ter-district travel. It will also not al­low of­fices to open fully al­though more in­dus­tries will be al­lowed to func­tion in or­ange and green zones.

In cities such as Mum­bai, Pune, Thane and Nashik, all hotspots, the of­fi­cials said, lock­down 3.0 con­di­tions are likely to con­tinue. “Newer hotspots like Au­rangabad and Jal­gaon have been added to the list of cities such as Mum­bai and Pune. In such a sce­nario, the lift­ing of the lock­down for at least two more weeks is not pos­si­ble,” said a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cer.

Bi­har, Jhark­hand and Odisha want to con­tinue with stricter lock­down be­cause they are see­ing a rise in cases with the re­turn of mi­grant work­ers. “We will have no ex­emp­tions in the fourth phase as Covid cases are in­crease. In fact, we are look­ing at stricter lock­down,” a Bi­har gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said.

State gov­ern­ments have formed com­mit­tee of of­fi­cials to chalk out spe­cific guide­lines for the next phase of the lock­down. Andhra Pradesh has formed six com­mit­tees to work out strate­gies, said K S Jawa­har Reddy, state spe­cial chief sec­re­tary (med­i­cal and health). The Kerala con­sti­tuted a task force headed by for­mer chief sec­re­tary K M Abra­ham, which is ex­pected to sub­mit re­port by Thurs­day. Ra­jasthan’s ex­pert panel on the exit strat­egy will sub­mit re­port on Fri­day. The Gu­jarat gov­ern­ment has formed a com­mit­tee of med­i­cal ex­perts to sug­gest con­trol spread of Covid once the curbs are re­laxed.

Sev­eral states such as MP, UP,

Bi­har and Ra­jasthan have sought peo­ple’s sugges­tions for ex­it­ing the lock­down and ac­tiv­i­ties to be al­lowed after May 18. Ma­ha­rash­tra has sought in­puts from district col­lec­tors by Thurs­day. Bi­har CM Ni­tish Ku­mar has al­ready held con­sul­ta­tion with all leg­is­la­tors on lock­down 4.

In MP, all district col­lec­tors and MLAs have been asked to col­lect the re­sponses and sub­mit them to the state by Thurs­day. Of­fi­cials said most sugges­tions per­tain to the home de­liv­ery of ra­tion and money to the poor, open­ing of all grain mar­kets fully and al­low­ing more work un­der MGNREGA. MP home and health min­is­ter, Narot­tam Mishra said, “Lock­down re­stric­tions will con­tinue to be im­ple­mented strictly and re­lax­ation will be as per the PM Naren­dra Modi’s di­rec­tion.”

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