PM's Decision on Extending Nationwide Lockdown Likely to be Announced Sunday Evening

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to announce on Sunday evening whether the 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus will be extended beyond Tuesday, April 14.

A final call on the lockdown will be taken when Modi interacts with chief ministers of all states on Saturday via videoconferencing. There have been indications that the central government is leaning towards extending the lockdown across the country after several states also pitched for it to contain the fast-spreading virus.

The lockdown, if extended, could however come with some sector specific relaxations as a prolonged shutdown will have massive economic repercussions. Interstate movement will continue to remain restricted, except for essential services, sources have said.

Odisha on Thursday had become the first state to extend the lockdown till April 30, just two days ahead of the meeting between Modi and chief ministers.

Other CMs, including Telangana’s K Chandrashekar Rao, have also made a strong case for the extension of the ongoing lockdown. "The Centre and all other state governments have lost revenue during the lockdown period. The only positive outcome of this is that we are able to protect our people," he said.

KCR also cited a study by the Boston Consulting Group, which said extension of the lockdown should be at least till the end of June. “Lockdown is the only weapon we have to control the spread of this disease and avoid a situation which countries like the US, Spain and Italy are facing," he said at a news conference.

The Maharashtra government, meanwhile, is likely to ask the Centre to lift the lockdown in phases, where supply of essential services such as gas cylinders are streamlined first, sectors that can’t rely on work from home are opened next, while local trains, schools and colleges should remain shut for longer.

Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had tweeted after the last meeting with the PM that the Centre also wants that the lockdown should not be immediately lifted from April 15, but it should happen in phases. “Precautions should be taken that there is no crowding," he said.

Modi had in an all-part meeting told floor leaders of opposition and other parties in Parliament that the nationwide lockdown will not be lifted in one go on April 14, according to BJD's Pinaki Misra.

However, the government hasn't made any assertion so far whether it is going to extend the current lockdown or not.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said his government will extend the lockdown if the need arises, while his counterpart in Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot said the state cannot withdraw the lockdown immediately, and it has to be done in a phased manner.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said in its monetary policy report that the outlook for India's economic recovery has been sharply altered by the coronavirus outbreak and the resulting lockdown.

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