Some Relaxations in Lockdown Expected in PM Modi's Address

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation at 10am on Tuesday, the last day of 21-day nationwide coronavirus lockdown, amid indications that the shutdown could be extended by another two weeks with certain relaxations to boost economic activities.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation at 10am on 14th April 2020," the Prime Minister''s Office tweeted.

With most states favouring the lockdown to be extended at least by two weeks beyond April 14, the government is broadly focusing on a two-pronged action plan ----containing the spread of  COVID-19 in the country and staggered resumption of economic activities, according to an official.

An indication that while the lockdown maybe extended to ensure social distancing, some relaxations would be made to push economic activities also came from the prime minister, who during a meeting with chief ministers on Saturday via video conferencing, said it was important to save lives as well as livelihoods.

"While announcing the lockdown, I had said ''jaan hai to jahan hai'' (health is wealth)... Most people in the country understood it and discharged their responsibilities by remaining indoors. And now it is imperative to focus on both aspects, ''Jaan bhi, jahan bhi'' ((lives as well as livelihoods), for India''s bright future, and prosperous and healthy India," Modi had said.

At least seven states -- Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana-- have already announced extension of the lockdown till April 30.

According to the Union Health Ministry''s latest update, the COVID-19 death toll has risen to 308 and the number of confirmed cases climbed to 9,152 in the country, which is under the nationwide lockdown since March 25.

Meanwhile, several Union ministers resumed work from their respective offices from Monday as part of government''s plan to revive economic activities.

The government in an order last week had also asked all officers of the joint secretary level and above to be present in the ministries along with one-third of the essential staff from Monday.

According to sources, the government is also looking into various recommendations and suggestions made by states, experts and other stakeholders.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has recommended that certain identified industries and services should be allowed to resume limited activity with "reasonable safeguards".

In a number of recommendations to the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA), the department said these new activities in wide-ranging spheres are essential in any lockdown exit plan to improve the country''s economic activity and provide liquidity in the hands of the people.

There is also a suggestion to divide the country into three zones -- red, orange and green - based on the number of COVID-19 cases in those areas, and allow some industrial activity in orange and green areas, where there are no COVID-19 hotspots, while maintaining standard operating procedures of social distancing.

All inter-state public transport, including buses, trains, has been stopped. There is also a ban on domestic and international air travel to prevent the spread of the virus.

Last month, the prime minister had addressed the nation twice -- on March 19 and March 24.

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