With eight more days to the 21-day lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked ministries to prepare a graded plan to open departments in non-hotspot areas. Addressing a cabinet meet, the first via video link amid social distancing measures for COVID-19, PM Modi also asked ministers to strategise for "emergent conditions" once the lockdown ended.
Talking about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, the Prime Minister said the government must work on war-footing to mitigate the fallout and ministries should prepare a Business Continuity Plan. A graded plan to slowly open departments where there are no hotspots should be made, he suggested, adding that the crisis offered an opportunity to become self-dependent in the medical sector.
PM Modi asked ministers to submit actionable suggestions on boosting manufacturing and exports and ensure that new sectors and countries were added in India's export net.
"Lockdown measures and social distancing norms need to go hand in hand," PM Modi said, according to a government statement. He urged ministers to identify 10 key decisions and 10 priority areas of focus for each ministry once the lockdown ended.
After the meeting, the government was non-committal on whether the lockdown would end on April 14.
"We are monitoring the world situation every minute. A decision will be taken in national interest. A decision in this regard will be declared at the right time....There are Empowered Group of officials who are assessing the situation," said Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.
Last week, PM Modi had urged state Chief Ministers to come up with suggestions for a plan for staggered movement of people after the lockdown was over.