Modi meets Shah as Ben­gal, Goa back eas­ing re­stric­tions

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dents let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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

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