- Lockdown in containment areas extended till June 30
- Night curfew timings changed to 9 pm-5 am from 7 pm-7 am
- Current phase of re-opening will have economic focus, says government
Malls, hotels, restaurants and places of worship can open on June 8 except in areas with the most number of coronavirus cases, the government said on Saturday, extending the nationwide lockdown till June 30 with a phased plan to unlock India.
All activities banned earlier will open up in phases, the home ministry said in new guidelines on Saturday, a day before the current phase of lockdown ends.
Strict orders enforced on March 25, when the country went into a total lockdown to break the chain of transmission of the virus, will be limited to containment zones - areas sealed because of a large number of COVID-19 cases - at least till June 30.
Night curfew will stay, but timings will be changed to 9 pm-5am from the existing 7 pm-7am.
Cinemas, schools and international flights will reopen after an assessment in the next few weeks. A decision on reopening schools and colleges will be taken in July after consultations with states, parents and other stake-holders.
There will be no restrictions on the movement of people or goods within states and between states and significantly, interstate passes will no longer be needed. But states can decide whether to regulate movement based on their own.
"The current phase of re-opening, Unlock 1, will have an economic focus," said the government, a day after GDP data showed the slowest pace of growth in 11 years and a big impact of the lockdown on the latest quarter.
International flights, metros, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres and bars will also be allowed after more consultations in June "based on the assessment of the situation", said the ministry.
Social, political, religious, cultural and other gatherings also stay banned for now, given the unabated need for physical distancing to check the infection.
The phased exit plan comes amid grim predictions of a first full-year contraction of the economy in more than four decades even as the country battles a spurt in coronavirus cases. India has the ninth highest number of virus cases in the world, with over 1.7 lakh infected and close to 5,000 deaths.
Some 12 crore people lost jobs in April, according to estimates by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy.
Attempting to revive economic activity, the government has been easing out of lockdown curbs since April 20 but travel restrictions and the mass movement of migrant workers pose a big challenge. Domestic flights and train services restarted earlier this month.
India's worst-hit cities include its financial capital Mumbai, which has close to 700 containment zones, and Delhi, which has over 122.