NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday confirmed that there would be a fourth phase of lockdown, but said its contours would be very different from the rules that shaped the three national lockdowns since March 25, with the last scheduled to end on May 17.
“Lockdown 4.0 will be completely different and will have new rules. I am confident that we will, while fighting the virus by following the rules, move forward,” Modi said, adding the new rules, based on the suggestions from chief ministers, would be announced before May 18.
The remark was seen as an indication that the new anti-coronavirus protocol will allow for accelerated exit from the lockdown to facilitate resumption of economic activity and normalcy.
The PM said ways had to be devised to ensure the virus didn’t set India back. “Experts and scientists are unanimous that the virus will be part of our life for a long time to come. But we cannot let ourselves be hostage to it. We will wear masks and follow the two-yard distancing norm, but will not give up the pursuit of our goals,” he said.
Exit from lockdown may come with a containment strategy
Modi’s reference suggests that exit from the lockdown will come alongside a containment strategy which will seek to identify, contain and prevent hotspots. The experimentation with businesses being allowed to open with reduced staff strength and social distancing is seen to have delivered encouraging results and more relaxations will follow.
The country has already seen the first steps to restore mass transport and the possibility of metro and air services being reopened soon is very likely. The home ministry guidelines are expected to allow more services to function and these will almost certainly include expanded delivery of non-essentials by e-commerce companies.
Modi’s comments are also seen in the light of his message to chief ministers on Monday that graded opening of the economy will continue apace alongside vigorous containment efforts. On Tuesday, he said life could not be held hostage to coronavirus and there was a need to work towards targets while exercising due caution.