Endorsing the idea of staggered lifting of lockdown, many key industry players have suggested city-wise opening while keeping coronavirus hotspots cordoned off to resume business activities. Most executives said that stretching the lockdown beyond 21 days was not an option given the loss for businesses and earning opportunity for people.
Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director Bird Group said that states which have very few or no cases can remove the restrictions after April 14 and allow business activities. He cited the example of Uttarakhand which has reported only six cases so far to emphasise that there was no point in keeping the states or cities shut when there are not many coronavirus cases.
"Such states can keep their borders closed to ensure that no positive cases come from outside. Once the business activities and movements start, establishments will also start getting cash flows," Bhatia said.
Vinod Sharma, Chairman of CII National Committee on Information Communication Technology & Electronics (ICTE) and Managing Director, Deki Electronics Ltd said that staggered opening has already been allowed by expanding the list of essential services during the lockdown.
"In a way, very small staggered opening has already happened. Some exports have been included in the list which I think is good thing," Sharma said.
He suggested that a maximum of 50 per cent people can be allowed to come back to work but only after ensuring all necessary precautions. Further, certain exports could be allowed as there are buyers available.
"If Covid cases don't rise or surge, then from the following week more sectors could be opened," he said while suggesting post 21-day lockdown plan.
Some of the private sector executives said that there was possibility that manufacturers would try to stretch their capacity beyond limits set by the government. In case government allows certain manufacturing unit to operate 50 per cent of their capacity, chances are that many would tend to take it to 80 per cent, an executive said.
In a video-conference meeting with state chief ministers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday indicated graded lifting of the national lockdown after April 14. While noting that it was important to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once lockdown ends, PM Modi asked the states to brainstorm and send suggestions for it.
Pankaj Bansal, Director of Delhi-based auto-parts exporter TMA International noted that the month of April was going to be very painful for the industry especially MSME firms. He said proposal to lift lockdown was a move in the right direction.
"Areas which have seen positive cases could continue to be under lockdown but those which have very few or nil cases could be allowed to function normally," Bansal said.
INDIA CORONAVIRUS TRACKER: BusinessToday.In brings you a daily tracker as coronavirus cases continue to spread. Here is the state-wise data on total cases, fatalities and recoveries in one comprehensive graphic
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