As India nears the end of its 21-day lockdown, some states have hinted at extending the same. Here is a round-up of those states, and what it means for travellers. By Bayar Jain
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Today, April 9, marks the 16th day of the 21-day lockdown of the country – a move undertaken by the Government of India to curb the spread of the pandemic. As India enters the final stages of the nationwide lockdown, states are mulling over extending the same. Reportedly, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India said that it might not be possible to lift the lockdown on April 15 as planned, and has even consulted chief ministers for their feedback. States such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana have demanded that the lockdown be extended by at least 15 days.
Reportedly, Odisha has announced extending its lockdown till April 30, becoming the first state to do so. Moreover, all educational institutions in the state will remain closed until June 17, 2020.
Earlier, Uttar Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary Home Avneesh Avasthi said that it would be premature to ease the restrictions till the state stops reporting fresh COVID-19 cases. As of April 8, Uttar Pradesh had reported 326 cases. Moreover, the state government has also decided to completely seal 15 districts of the state. The 15 districts are Lucknow, Agra, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida), Kanpur, Varanasi, Shamli, Meerut, Bareilly, Bulandshahar, Firozabad, Maharajganj, Sitapur, Saharanpur and Basti.
Maharashtra, with the highest number of cases as of April 9, has voiced a similar sentiment. According to reports, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said that the situation between April 10 to 15 will be closely monitored before narrowing down on a final decision. As per reports, a senior minister said although no decision has been made, there is a general consensus among party members that the lockdown should be extended in Mumbai and Pune. Relaxations, if any, would be restricted to those areas where few to no cases have been reported. This lockdown, if extended, is reported to last two more weeks.
Kerala and Karnataka
On the other hand, Kerala has set up an expert committee to look into how the situation can be managed once the lockdown ends, while Karnataka has said that the government hopes to phase out the lockdown post April 14.
Although the discussion regarding extending the lockdown has not been brought to the limelight in Delhi as of April 9, the Delhi government has sealed 20 COVID-19 hotspots. The areas sealed include Markaz Masjid, Nizamuddin Basti, Hauz Rani, parts of Dilshad Garden and Dinpur village, Bengali Market, etc. The state also declared that face masks will be compulsory for people stepping out of their homes after Maharashtra, Chandigarh and Uttar Pradesh made masks compulsory.
In Madhya Pradesh, where discussions of extending the lockdown are underway, the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has reportedly directed officers to completely seal off hotspots like Ujjain, Indore, and Bhopal.
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What does it mean for travellers?
Since the nationwide lockdown was announced, all flights stand suspended. However, as per reports, the civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has approved international flights on a case-to-case basis post the lockdown. However, these international flights would also have to take into account the situation of the destination country and whether flights have been resumed there.
In the case of domestic flights, the government has reportedly said that it has not issued any new directive to the airlines and is working to understand the situation once lockdown period will end by mid-April. GoAir, on the other hand, has said that it will be opening bookings for its domestic flights from April 15.
With regards to railways, reports suggest that the Indian Railways is considering making thermal screening mandatory at railway stations and ensuring social distancing inside trains when the Centre gives its nod for resuming passenger train services. Currently, passenger trains remain suspended. However, the Indian Railways has reportedly begun preparing the process of resuming passenger and mail express train services. These train services will be resumed only on specific approval of each train from the Railway Board.
Reports suggest that inter-state bus services are likely to remain suspended even after April 14.