Will India see a Lockdown 5.0 or are we headed for a Lockdown exit? With Lockdown 4, many offices that had been shut for two months re-opened, services like e-commerce deliveries of non-essentials, salons etc in some areas also began operations. Roads, that wore a deserted look for two months, are back to being crowded with some places in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru even reporting traffic jams even as Mumbai remains under lockdown. Most states have gone ahead with running inter-state and intrastate buses with social distancing norms. Meanwhile, domestic flight operations have resumed and 200 trains will also be running from June 1, as has been announced by the Government of India. In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has made it clear that the DMRC has made preparations to resume Delhi Metro services and were awaiting a go-ahead from the Centre. With most sectors up and running, it looks like India may be looking at a lockdown exit soon even as the number of COVID-19 cases sees record-high spikes every day, but the economy hanging in the balance.
India started off with a total lockdown on March 24 to contain the spread of COVID-19. Apart from essential services - medical and groceries - no other shops or offices remained open. People were strictly asked to stay indoors. India had about 100 cases when it went into total lockdown. Two months later, in its fourth phase of lockdown, even as cases have crossed 1 lakh, thousands are dead, the Indian government holds a bigger challenge - fixing the broken economy. For that to happen, the country needs to exit lockdown yet be cautious with coronavirus continuing to spread. Indian Railways to Resume Offline Train Ticket Bookings at 1.7 Lakh Centres Across the Country From May 22, Says Piyush Goyal.
Another huge crisis is the migrant crisis. While the past two months have been about the country being under lockdown, lakhs of migrant workers, rendered jobless due to the shutdown, taking to the road to get to their homes. While the government has begun ferrying them via trains and buses, lockdown exit plans are also being put in place to enable industries to resume work for daily wage workers.
Lockdown 4 came with a flurry of relaxations with intrastate movement via private vehicles also becoming easier. People are beginning to take this as the new normal and have begun moving out in the specified time of 7 am to 7 pm, wearing masks and carrying sanitisers. Most restrictions have been lifted and remain only in containment zones now, which have been left to the states and districts to identify. Stadiums too have been allowed to open sans spectators. Before this lockdown ends, the resumption of domestic flights and 200 trains has also been announced. What remains now is the hospitality industry and tourism sectors. As June 1 approaches, what we may be looking at could be an extension of Lockdown 4, with more relaxations, hereon, rather than a completely different Lockdown 5. Rules For Passengers, Airlines: Self-Declaration Form Mandatory; Here's What is Allowed at Airports And During Flight Travel, What Isn't.
With several jobs lost, organisations announcing pay-cuts and daily wage labourers getting zero income, the past two months have been a stressful time. The film industry, too, has been hit with shoots remaining stalled. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has also hinted that the film industry may also be granted permission to resume operations if social distancing norms are followed.
That is the crux of the current scenario. While a lockdown exit is imminent and the government prepares to open sectors for getting back to business, social distancing norms will now take the front seat in controlling the spread of COVID-19, so will effective healthcare to quarantine and treat patients in a hygienic environment. With India looking at a lockdown exit soon, masks, gloves, sanitisation and physical distancing will have to become a new normal till there's a vaccine or cure for COVID-19.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on May 25, 2020 01:21 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).