Most states back easing of restrictions in green zones post-lockdown
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday announced that businesses like hardware, tea, mobile, book and electrical appliance shops will be allowed to operate in green zones that have reported no Covid-19 cases in the state. “No relief can be offered to salons and barber shops,” said Banerjee. She said buses can ply in green zones if they carry only 20 passengers to ensure social distancing.
West Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha said 16 jute mills have been allowed to resume operations.
Achyut Chandra, vice president of the Eastern India Corrugated Box Manufacturers Association, said some industries located outside the containment zones in Kolkata and Howrah were operating with limited manpower.
Officials in Andhra Pradesh said 80% of the total 676 revenue blocks in the state come under green zones, where all activities could be allowed after May 3 when the national lockdown to check the pandemic spread is scheduled to end. Most of the red zone areas are located in Kurnool, Guntur, Krishna, and Chittoor districts.
“We are hopeful about the restoration of more activities in green zones including that of private transport services and other economic activities,” an official in Andhra Pradesh chief minister’s office said. “We hope to see some spurt in the industrial activity after May 3 when more red zones became green.”
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said a modified lockdown would be enforced from May 3 even as all industries activities would be allowed with some restrictions. He said the state government was looking at sectors, such as hospitality and stone mining, that can resume operations with social distancing norms.
Jharkhand has directed officials in green zones to resume all industrial activities in consultation with local businesses. “We have initiated several measures in villages... The economy will pick up in rural areas soon,” said rural development minister Alamgir Alam.
He said the government will come up with norms to restart the bidi industry, which is the third biggest employer in rural India, especially in West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.
Alam said the government was thinking about permitting sweet and meat shops to start businesses. “We will not allow non-essential commercial vehicles and passenger cars to ply.”
Chhattisgarh plans to restart interdistrict public transport after May 3 to enable small industries to resume operations. “All government offices would resume normal operations from May 4,” said an official on condition of anonymity. He added a final decision in this regard will be taken at a cabinet meeting on May 3.
In Bihar, the government is likely to allow some more relaxations to engage migrant workers, who have returned to the state. “It is unlikely that schools, colleges and offices will get back to normal functioning soon but more infrastructure projects may be allowed,” said an official.
Goa will allow resumption of all industrial activities from May 3. “Let the borders be sealed. But let local activity start,” a government official said. He added after May 3, they plan to start public transport within the state.
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant said he will wait for the Centre’s guidelines to ease restrictions after May 3.
Himachal Pradesh’s principal secretary (revenue), Onkar Chand Sharma, said the state government has lifted several restrictions on industrial and agriculture activities in the green zones. He added the government will review the situation after May 3 and decide on easing more restrictions.
Uttarakhand government spokesman, Madan Kaushik, said the state will take a call on more relaxations in green zones after the Centre notifies new regulations. Most of the industries in Uttarakhand, which have been given permission to operate, have not resumed operations because of tough conditions.