Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a crucial meet with chief ministers of all states and union territories via video-conferencing at 10 pm today. During the meeting, PM Modi will gather important inputs from various states to put out a comprehensive and holistic plan with regard to the exit strategy before the second phase of lockdown ends on Sunday (May 3).
Notably, after Delhi expressed its willingness to extend the lockdown in the red zone areas, other states, including Maharashtra, Punjab and Odisha, have agreed that, if needed, they were ready to continue with the existing restrictions till May 16. Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka have said they would follow the Centre's guidelines, while Assam, Kerala and Bihar have said they would take the final call after video conference with Prime Minister Modi.
In the last meeting held earlier this month, the CMs of most states had appealed to PM Modi to extend the 21-day countrywide lockdown from April 14 amid mounting coronavirus cases. The Prime Minister could also discuss issues related to migrant movement, losses faced by states and suggestions on the second round of stimulus package to bring the economy back on track after lockdown. Speculations are rife that the Centre may soon come up with another relief package similar to the one announced in March.
The lockdown has caused huge problems for migrant labourers, who have been stuck in different states, most of them without work. Big states including Maharashtra, Delhi, UP and Gujarat are facing crisis as many labourers are waiting for the lockdown to end so they could go to their native places.
Sale of liquor is another big issue facing the states right now. States' coffers are empty due to no liquor sale for over a month now, and many of them want to open liquor shops to collect some revenue in the wake of crisis. The recent guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs relaxed restrictions for various registered shops but no relaxation was granted to liquor shops. The PM-CM meet could finally take a decision on this too.
Meanwhile, India reported a total of 1,975 cases of COVID-19 on April 26, which was the highest single-day spike in infection cases since first confirmed coronavirus case in Kerala on January 30. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stand at 26,917 currently, according to Union Ministry's 5 pm update on Sunday. These cases include, 20,177 active cases, 5,913 cured/discharged, 1 migrated and 826 deaths.