Planes, Buses To Be Allowed In Select Areas In Lockdown 4.0, Say Sources

Explaining, an official said, "Local buses will start running with limited capacity in non-hotspot zones". Autos and taxis will also be allowed, with restrictions on the number of passengers. Most of these will be allowed to ply within the districts in non-containment zones, he said.

The government is also planning to open up the skies for domestic sectors from next week.

Highlights

  • Interstate travel likely for those with passes
  • Public transport may be allowed wherever possible: Sources
  • Permission likely for delivery of all goods, not only essentials
New Delhi:

The projection of "normalcy on ground" will be the focus of Lockdown 4.0, which comes into effect from May 18. A senior home ministry official told NDTV that one of the first areas where relaxation will be allowed wherever possible, is public transport -- on ground and the skies. The boundaries will be based on the states' blueprint -- sought by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week -- and how compatible it is with the situation on the ground, officials involved in drawing up the Lockdown 4.0 guidelines told NDTV.

The pointer to the ground situation, they said, will be data crunched by the home ministry, a copy on which is in possession of NDTV.

Officials also indicated that one of the key demands of the states -- having the power to define their hotspots -- may be granted. This was flagged by a number of states during their meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week.

In his address to the nation on Tuesday, PM Modi had made it clear that Lockdown 4.0 will have a "completely different form", with new rules.

Explaining, an official said, "Local buses will start running with limited capacity in non-hotspot zones". Autos and taxis will also be allowed, with restrictions on the number of passengers. Most of these will be allowed to ply within the districts in non-containment zones, he said.

Interstate travel may also be opened up but only for those with travel passes.

The government is also planning to open up the skies for domestic sectors from next week.

Train services have already started. Permission is also likely to be given for home delivery of all kinds of goods instead of just essential items, officials said.

"Most states agree that stringent steps should be taken to contain the spread of virus," the official said.

"As they would be redefining the jurisdiction of their hotspots, no activity will be allowed in these zones. But in the rest, they want relaxations," he said, adding that before allowing that, "We are doing our own data crunching"

The data the ministry is particularly focusing on is not just the positives, but those who are in isolation. Across various states, 11.9 lakh people are under observation. A section of them testing positive will give a huge spurt to numbers as contact tracing would become increasingly difficult.

Maharashtra, which has the maximum number of cases and a proportional amount of people in quarantine, is planning to extend the lockdown. "They don't want to allow any inter district movement as of now or offices to open," said another official. A few industries, he said, might be allowed in orange and green zones.

Gujarat has the second highest number of coronavirus cases. With 9,268 people testing positive and 2,08,537 people in quarantine, the state wants to resume all economic activity in all major urban centres. But almost 80 per cent of cases are clustered in the state's urban centres – Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara with 70 per cent of the cases being in Ahmedabad. Officials said some relaxations may be given in districts where no cases have been reported.

States which have suggested opening up many sectors include Andhra Pradesh Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and Delhi.  Of these Kerala, with its stellar record of containing the virus, has the brightest prospect of getting most of its wishlist.

"Kerala wants resumption of metro services, local trains, domestic flights, restaurants and hotels to revive the tourism sector," an official said adding that all of it is "feasible".

Of the 535 cases reported in state, a maximum number has been cured and even the numbers in isolation are not high despite many people returning from abroad. Only 494 people are in quarantine in the state.

Officials said the eastern states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha want to continue with stricter lockdown as their COVID-19 cases are increasing due to the return of migrant workers.