Modi meets Shah as Bengal, Goa back easing restrictions
NEW DELHI: West Bengal announced the conditional reopening of places of worship and Goa favoured limited operations of malls, restaurants and gymnasiums on Friday, joining a growing chorus for more relaxations after the fourth phase of the lockdown ends on May 31.
The developments came on the day home minister Amit Shah met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, less than 24 hours after Shah held discussions on the phone with chief ministers on the Covid-19 outbreak.
Shah briefed Modi about the suggestions and the feedback he received from CMs on the road ahead, PTI quoted an official as saying. The first anniversary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government also featured in the talks between the two leaders, an official told HT on condition of anonymity.
In West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced a slew of measures, including more relaxations for government and private. At present, offices in the state can function with 50% of staff strength.
Banerjee increased the staff strength in government offices to 70% after the end of the fourth phase of lockdown and allowed private offices to function with full capacity from June 8.
“From June 1, religious sites and places can open in West Bengal. But there will be no major congregation or celebration of any festival. Only 10 persons can gather at a religious place at any given time,” she said at the state secretariat. “Jute and tea industries will also be allowed to operate with 100% workforce from June 1,” she added.
In Goa, chief minister Pramod
Sawant backed extending the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19 till June 15, but sought several relaxations such as reopening of malls, restaurants and gyms. He said businesses can open with 50% of their staff capacity while adhering to social distancing norms.
Sawant said the state was waiting for fresh guidelines from the Union home ministry, which is expected to release them by Sunday when the fourth phase ends.
The nationwide lockdown — the first phase was imposed on March 25 for 21 days — has been extended thrice. According to the federal guidelines applicable to the period between May 18 and May 31, malls, gymnasiums and dine-in restaurants are to be shut across the country. Though states can frame their own guidelines, they have been advised not to dilute the central rules.
IN CONVERSATIONS WITH AMIT SHAH, STATES WANTED LOCKDOWN TO CONTINUE BUT AT THE SAME TIME FAVOURED THE OPENING UP OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES