India Extends Nationwide Lockdown for Two Weeks From May 4
A cow stands on a deserted street during a lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

India Extends Nationwide Lockdown for Two Weeks From May 4

(Bloomberg) -- India will extend its nationwide lockdown by two weeks from May 4 but will ease restrictions in some areas to revive economic activity that’s been stalled since the stringent stay-at-home orders were put in place across the country on March 25.

Movement between states won’t allowed during the lockdown, although authorities will partially relax measures in areas where there’s been no new reports of coronavirus infections, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement on Friday.

Industrial establishments in urban areas, including special economic zones, will be allowed to operate, as well as manufacturing units for essential goods, including drugs, pharmaceuticals and medical devices and IT hardware production, the ministry said. Private offices and government departments can operate with 33% capacity.

The number of new infections being reported in the country has not fallen despite the 40-day lockdown. India had reported just over 600 infections and 10 deaths on March 25 when the strict curbs came into effect. It reported the biggest single-day spike on May 1, recording as many as 2,400 new cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Those numbers now stand at over 37,000 infections and more than 1,200 deaths.

Meanwhile, India’s defense forces are finalizing plans to evacuate stranded Indians from foreign countries. Naval ships and the air force’s transport planes are on standby to bring millions of Indian workers from the Gulf countries, defense chiefs told reporters in New Delhi.

The government will also run special trains from Friday to help move migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other people stranded across the country due to the lockdown. Local authorities will screen the passengers and only those found asymptomatic would be allowed to travel, the home ministry said.

India’s easing of restrictions is primarily aimed at reviving its economy, which could be heading for its first full-year contraction in more than four decades, as the world’s biggest lockdown has crippled business activity and put a lid on consumption. It has also resulted in widespread job losses and pay cuts.

The country had eased some restrictions on April 20 to allow farmers and some industries to resume operations in rural areas and in districts that were free of infections.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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