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Coronavirus

Ministers Back In Offices From Monday As PM Alters Lockdown Tactic: Sources

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has indicated a two-week extension to the lockdown; this was after a 4-hour video conference with 13 chief ministers to debate the issue

Council of Ministers to resume work from their offices from Monday.

New Delhi: The Council of Ministers, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and including Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Nirmala Sitharaman, will resume work at their ministries from Monday, a day before the end of the lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, sources said this evening.
Senior officials entitled to official transports, i.e., from the rank of Joint Secretary and above, will report in as usual, sources said, adding that a third of all essential staff had to be present. Junior officials will continue to work on rotation basis. Each ministry has also been told to plan for post-lockdown and come up with ideas to kick-start the economy.

The Prime Minister has urged that social distancing protocols be followed.

The move to resume work in ministries comes nearly a month after the centre issued work from home protocols and is in line with the centre’s change in strategy to deal with the COVID-19 crisis – to one that emphasises both protection of lives and the economy.

Earlier today the Prime Minister indicated a two-week extension to the current lockdown; this was after a four-hour video conference with 13 chief ministers to debate the issue.

The likely extension to the lockdown will come with certain exemptions to jumpstart the economy, sources added. These will include modification of laws to facilitate sale of farm produce; this will help vegetables reach end consumers quicker and ensure people stay indoors.

The centre will also issue directions to restart the construction industry in a graded manner, sources said. This is likely to be a key move since the sector employs tens of thousands of migrant workers and daily wagers, whose plight during the current lockdown has made national headlines.

During the meeting the Prime Minister also asked states to ensure adequate supply of oxygen for COVID-19 patients and the use of telemedicine to help maintain social distancing.

No decision has been taken, as yet, on allowing flights, domestic and international, as well as trains to re-start operations after Tuesday.

India has reported over 7,500 cases of novel coronavirus infection and 242 deaths. Worldwide the contagious virus has infected over 17 lakh people and killed 1.03 lakhs.

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