Coronavirus lockdown can only be lifted in phases: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot
As the Central and state governments began working on exit strategies for the coronavirus lockdown and other restrictions, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot Tuesday said the lockdown can only be withdrawn in phases and not in one go. He said saving lives is the most important task at this juncture and argued ruthless containment is the key to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Talking to The Indian Express, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu too said the state is not in a position to lift the curfew completely. With the beginning of the harvest season, he said the state may consider easing some restrictions for farmers to ensure that harvest is carried out without much difficulty.
Gehlot said the lockdown should be lifted in a phased manner. “Even if the lockdown is lifted… it will not be lifted in one go… We have imposed curfew in at least 40 places… it will not be lifted in one go… we will have to lift it phase-wise… Whatever decision we take will be taken after applying our mind thoroughly,” he told a Congress press conference through video conferencing from Jaipur. Everything, he said, will depend on feedback the government receives from across the state.
“Everything is shut because of the lockdown. You can understand where we are heading economically. The entire country is worried… but saving lives is also very important,” Gehlot said.
“During our meeting with the Prime Minister… it was said that the Prime Minister would like to know the views of the states… So we have set up two task forces to think about how to lift the lockdown, in how many phases… and another on economic recovery…. how to bring the economy back on track,” the Rajasthan CM said.
Sidhu said Punjab is doing everything it can to check the spread of the disease. “When we stumble upon one case… we are going for extensive contact tracing. That is why the cases are increasing… Punjab has a large number of migrant workers and NRIs. The Cabinet will meet around April 10-11… by then the picture will be clear… the crop season is also upon us… that is also very important… we had imposed curfew… we may make some changes… some relaxation… may allow some category of people… like farmers,” he said.
Both Rajasthan and Punjab have witnessed cases linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi. Gehlot demanded a probe by a sitting or a retired Supreme Court judge to find out the truth and fix accountability. Referring to communal remarks over the incident, he said an environment is being created which is not good for India’s struggle against COVID-19.
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