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Lockdown 5 to be announced on Sunday

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Lockdown 4 comes to an end on 31st May and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had already hinted at extending lockdown in Maharashtra beyond May 31. “We can’t say that lockdown will be over by 31st May. We will have to see how we will go forward. The coming time is crucial as multiplication of virus is picking up. I want to assure the medical fraternity that we are with them in all ways”, he stated in his video message to people.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases in India has climbed to 1,65,799, making it the world’s ninth worst hit country by the coronavirus pandemic. According to Worldoeter, India has now overtaken Turkey as the ninth worst hit country in terms of total number of cases. Some states have already extended the virus lockdown and “nothing stops them from taking any further steps on their own. Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Home Minister Amit Shah and senior officials to discuss the way forward as the coronavirus lockdown, extended thrice, ends on Sunday. A decision is likely tomorrow on whether to extend the restrictions amid the steady rise in virus cases, given the need to reopen economic activity.

States like Karnataka have demanded the reopening of religious centres, which, the sources say, will need a political call. Religious places and gatherings, which draw huge crowds and challenge attempts to enforce physical distancing, have stayed banned since the country went into lockdown in late March.

Amit Shah spoke to various Chief Ministers and asked for feedback on a plan after lockdown4 ends on Sunday. All Chief Ministers have given their views on how they want to move forward. Over the last few days, the Prime Minister’s Office has also reviewed the entire lockdown period and the trend of virus cases and deaths. Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, after his conversation with Shah, claimed a possibility of the lockdown being extended by two more weeks.

The government has been concerned about sharp criticism of its strategy to counter coronavirus, which has pushed it to change its stance on several occasions.

The government’s options include staying with the National Disaster Management Act, which empowers the Centre to take all the decisions regarding health, which is a state subject. During the last extension of the lockdown, the government had allowed many relaxations, leaving it to states to decide on what to reopen and what stays shut.

“After the 31st we have some relaxations in mind, depending on the instructions from Narendra Modi. If the Hon’ble Prime Minister wants to extend the lockdown, we have to observe that”, said Maharashtra’s Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil. While Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has been cautious (in the wake of increasing number of COVID-19 cases) Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar is in favour of granting some relaxations.

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