Schools, malls to remain shut; shops, public transport may open up in Red Zone: Sources

Schools, malls to remain shut; shops, public transport may open up in Red Zone: Sources

The government is likely to provide further relaxation to facilitate business activities during Lockdown 4.0 but at the same time will also impose stricter restrictions in containment zones.

Senior officials privy to the information said the aim is to provide more relaxations without letting down guard. In Lockdown 4.0, states and Union territories are likely to get greater flexibility as the country prepares to learn to live with Covid-19.

"No state/UT wants complete withdrawal of the lockdown. But they all want a graded exit plan so that economic activities can be resumed," a senior officer said on conditions of anonymity.

He said, in Lockdown 4.0, schools, colleges, malls and movie theatres will not be allowed to operate anywhere in the country. However, the government is allow salons, barber shops and spas could be allowed to open even in Red Zones, except in areas that have been marked as containment zones. At present, they are allowed to remain open in Orange and Green Zones.

The Centre has asked states and UTs to submit their recommendation on the modalities of Lockdown 4.0 latest by Friday.

Punjab has favoured continuation of a strict lockdown and said that states need to be given greater flexibility in micro-planning as part of a carefully planned exit strategy, encompassing both Covid-19 containment and a defined path of economic revival.

Tripura also echoed the same sentiments saying state should have more say in defining Green, Orange and Red Zones.

Sikkim, which does not have any Covid-19 case so far, has also demanded stricter lockdown to continue. Sikkim said its economy is largely based on tourism and it any relaxation with other states may spread the virus in the state as well.

Besides this, in Lockdown 4.0. mass transport may see phase-wise resumption. The Centre says easing of public transport like bus, railways and domestic airlines are likely to be allowed in the next few days.

However, states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Bihar have said they are not in favour of complete resumption of train and air services till May-end.

The Centre meanwhile is looking at allowing limited relaxation for local trains, buses and metro-rail services in non-containment areas in Red Zones.

As per sources, auto-rickshaw and taxis may also be allowed in Red zones with restrictions on the number of passengers. However, these too will only be allowed in non-containment areas.

In regards to opening of market places, the Centre is likely to allow the states/UTs to decide whether they want to allow markets to remain open in Orange and Red Zones. In Delhi, the government may implement an odd-even policy to allow shops of non-essential goods to operate.

Sources say under Lockdown 4.0, e-commerce platforms may be allowed to deliver non-essential items even in Red Zones, except in containment areas.

Sources said that since most states have different level of performance and preparation to deal with covid-19, each state cannot have a tailor made lockdown or relaxation.