Hyderabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hinted at staggered lifting of the lockdown restrictions in the country and asked chief ministers to be ready to tackle the situation after 15 April. The PM has urged the CMs to be ready with blueprints for restoration of supply chains of essential and non-essential commodities and other services even before 14 April, the last day of the lockdown.
According to sources who participated in PM Modi’s videoconference with CMs on Thursday, the decision to ease restrictions would entirely be dependent on gravity of the situation in 10 days, but as of now, the conditions are conducive for gradual revival of economic activity and civil life in a phased manner.
Besides CMs, senior ministers, chief secretary, senior secretaries and other top health officials were present at the videoconference. Most of the talk was done by the PM and the CMs, while others simply listened to their conversations. Interactions between the PM and CMs is expected to give first-hand information to others in the meeting on the current situation in the country. Just as the Centre had formed 11 teams of medical experts, technocrats and bureaucrats to deal with the situation arising out of Covid-19, the states, too, constituted separate committees consisting of officials and health experts to handle the crisis. Separate panels were formed at the state level for addressing problems of migrant labour, agriculture operations, trade and industry and general public.
The way Prime Minister Modi thanked the chief ministers for their extraordinary cooperation for successfully implementing the lockdown had indicated that the Centre was readying for the next phase in dealing with the virus-related crisis in the country. “We got the impression that the Centre is not keen on extending the lockdown beyond 14 April,” said a source in Telangana Chief Secretary’s office.
Lifting of lockdown restrictions on other non-essential goods and services like cloth stores, home appliances, mobiles and other equipment, would come on top of the agenda followed by liquor and restaurants. Cinema halls, bars and pubs are unlikely to be opened anytime soon, while international flights might take longer than that, sources said.
The ongoing agricultural operations in most states, too, are another priority of the governments. Scarcity of labour for agriculture operations was stressed by some chief ministers. Unless harvesting and loading of food grains were completed on time, there could be bigger loss to farmers who had invested heavily. Moreover, there would be scarcity of food grains in the market, leading to price rise. The Covid cases were either declining or stable by the end of the third week of March, but for the avalanche of fresh cases from those who had attended Delhi’s Markaz gathering before. This was an unexpected turn of events and the Prime Minister had asked the chief ministers to see that enough beds and quarantine facilities were kept ready for the new rush in cases. At the same time, the Prime Minister had assured the chief ministers not to panic due to the new cases. The PM did not speak about the law and order aspect of the Nizamuddin cases, at the videoconference.
The Prime Minister asked the chief ministers to continue the present seriousness in dealing the situation while focusing on triple Ts—Test, Trace and Treat. This way, the PM hinted at stepping up of testing facilities in the coming days and the need to place enough number of people in quarantine, if necessary.

Chief Minister KCR extended his support to the Centre in all aspects while stressing the need to track the Delhi religious event attendees. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy mostly explained  the difficult financial situation of his state in paying salaries to government staff and pay minimum support price for agriculture produce.
There is expected to be one more videoconference of the Prime Minister with the chief ministers sometime next week to review the progress of coping with Covid-19.