Centre likely to extend lockdown in 11 cities by 2 more weeks

New Delhi: The central government is likely to extend the lockdown with even more relaxations by another two weeks after May 31 to curb the spread of pandemic.

“Lockdown extension in spirit”, a top source in the government described the next phase. Most of the focus would be on 11 cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata, as well as Pune, Thane, Jaipur, Surat and Indore – which account for nearly 70 per cent of the Covid-19 cases in the country.

The Centre had in the fourth phase of the lockdown focused most of the restrictions to the containment zones and allowed operation of all segments to completely open the economy. Last week, the government also allowed operations of domestic flights in a limited capacity.

Among the relaxations that may be added in ‘Lockdown 5.0’ is the reopening of places of worship, as well as gymnasiums. Government officials said temples and other places of worship can be allowed to open provided social distancing is maintained and worshipers wear a mask. However, no religious congregation or festival will be allowed.

The Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediurappa has already said that it favours reopening of malls, temples and churches from June 1.

However, the next phase of the lockdown is likely to continue restrictions on malls, cinema halls, schools, colleges, other educational institutions and other places that can have large gatherings, officials said. Some states have started exploring the option of opening schools in June, but the central government, they said, is not in favor of it yet.

The number of reported coronavirus cases in India has passed 1.5 lakh, doubling in the last 14 days to 151,767. The death count in India has also nearly doubled in the last sixteen days to 4,337.

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