Should the lockdown be lifted?

B Yerram Raju | Updated on April 08, 2020 Published on April 08, 2020

With the necessary precautions and certain necessary exceptions, the lockdown can be eased without risking further spread of Covid-19

The lockdown declared on March 25 has proved reasonably effective due to the two important aspects: social distancing and isolation at home, unless there’s an emergency.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now asked for suggestions for staggered lifting of the lockdown. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has clearly voted against lifting the restrictions at present.

There could be several other States wanting a partial lock-down till June end to fight Covid-19 effectively. Even if the lockdown is opened with precautions, it should be re-imposed after five days for another month. During this period, those in quarantine at home and in hospitals should be supplied the masks and aprons. All small enterprises should be permitted to refurbish their machines for production of Covid-combatting materials, wherever possible.

Here are some more areas one must keep in mind with regard to the lifting (or not) of the lockdown:

The lockdown should be lifted every day between 5 am and 10 am and 4 pm to 7 pm.

Schools, colleges and technical education and management education institutions shall remain closed till further notice.

Religious centres, temples, and public offices should be kept open between 5am and 7pm.

Only 10 per cent of liquor shops with special approval from the concerned authority may be opened.

Malls should be opened between 11 am and 5 pm, with provisions for maintenance of social distancing. Any mall found crowded should be closed instantly.

Public transport should be duly sanitised, and may allow only 35 per cent of the seats to be filled, to maintain social distance among commuters. The buses should stop only at the specified bus stops, and not everywhere on the route.

Senior citizens, differently-abled people and women should be given separate transport facility. Mini school buses can be used for the purpose.

Transportation to metro stations should be arranged through commissioning all the school- and college-operated private fleet with tariffs well displayed.

Inter-district movement should be restricted between 6 am and 6 pm.

Rythu Bazars should function as normal — two hours a day.

All goods transport across districts shall be given entry into the city upto 8 am, and exit at 7pm. Drivers should be provided with appropriate facilities along the route.

All patients and people suffering from diseases other than the coronavirus should be allowed free access and they should show their ID and mobile communication from the doctor to consult or take medication.

Apart from these points, a few exceptions can be considered.

No restrictions on movement of funeral processions.

The already opened windows for vegetables, fruits and essential commodities and medicines should continue.

Private vehicles, two- and three-wheelers should be allowed to carry a maximum of two passengers. The vehicles must be sanitised between trips.

All trains should allow only one-third of the capacity in all three-tier coaches. All coaches should be sanitised every eight hours and washrooms kept clean.

Offices can operate between 10 am and 4 pm. Factories can work two shifts, following due precautions. The shop floor supervisor of the shift shall make sure that the toilets and washrooms are clean, loaded with the required sanitary materials, and sanitised every two hours. All employees, labour, executives shall wash their feet before entry and sanitize their hands both while entering and exiting.

Employees with company ids and private vehicles should be permitted to travel.

Postal service/couriers and electricity and telephone maintenance staff should also be permitted to work from 6 am to 9 pm.

Extraordinary times require extraordinary solutions, along with tolerance and forbearance. The country so far, has handled the situation exceedingly well and it is our duty to keep the country and its citizens in good health.

The writer is an economist and risk management specialist. Views are personal

Published on April 08, 2020

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