Coronavirus lockdown: Punjab, Uttarakhand want national curbs extended
The Punjab and Uttarakhand governments recommended on Friday that the ongoing national lockdown be extended beyond April 14, when it was supposed to end, and restrictions not be lifted until the end of the month.
The Punjab announcement came hours after chief minister Amarinder Singh insisted it was the only way to fight Covid-19 as the community transmission has started in his state with 27 cases linked to secondary sources.
Later in the day, the Uttarakhand government recommended the extension of lockdown till April 30, closure of all educational institutions till May 15 and made masks mandatory for all residents.
The recommendations came a day after Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik extended the lockdown in his state till April 30. There were calls from states such as Tamil Nadu for extending the curbs. The BJP-ruled states have left it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a decision on extending the lockdown.
Modi on Wednesday indicated that his government is not inclined to lift the emergency protocol in its entirety on April 14. He is due to discuss extending the lockdown with chief ministers on Saturday. “The number of positive Covid-19 cases will increase as is happening across the world and even in India. How can Punjab be isolated from it? We have contained the pandemic to some level as compared to other states. But this will spread,” Singh told media via video-conferencing.
He said the 27 positive cases of secondary transmission were a serious cause of worry and that is why the Centre has to consider extending the lockdown. Punjab has reported 151 cases and 11 deaths. “We had around 140,000 NRIs and foreign returnees... They were the primary ones. Now, with 27 positive cases of secondary transmission we have entered the stage of community transmission.”
The Union health ministry has denied that India had reached the community transmission stage, insisting that it was still at the local transmission stage.
Singh said he would convey the decision of his cabinet to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
Singh said in view of the harvest season in Punjab starting from April 15, the state government will allow district-wise exemption for farmers to harvest the rabi crop with appropriate social distancing.
“We are expecting another bumper crop of 185 lakh tonnes of wheat this year and for that we will have to make adequate arrangements,” he said.
In Uttarakhand, the policy enumerating steps to move out of lockdown was formulated at a meeting at the residence of chief minister, Trivendra Singh Rawat, on Friday evening.
Madan Kaushik, cabinet minister and spokesperson, said the decision regarding extending lockdown till April 30 will be sent to the Central government for approval.
“Regarding other points in the policy like making masks compulsory, the state government has taken them on its own and doesn’t need the permission of Centre,” he said.
In Tamil Nadu, a panel of health care experts on Friday recommended extending the lockdown till the end of April. After meeting with them, chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami said the final decision would be made on Saturday.