NEW DELHI: The government is considering requests from industry to gradually open the exit route from the ongoing lockdown to allow firms producing non-essentials, too, to restart activity with a reduced workforce at least in areas that are coronavirus-free. One of the suggestions is to allow younger employees to work, as they are less prone to infections — with proper social distancing on the work floor and maintenance of hygiene.
Officials said such steps may be considered in areas that are virus-free and where factories have worker quarters or hostels, so that movement remains restricted. Industry bodies also suggested limited public transportation for workers besides the movement of goods freely in non-Covid areas so that their factories could re-start to a limited extent.
Said Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General of Ficci, “we should consider opening up selectively economic activity in those districts where there is no spread of Covid, in a graded manner … of course with social distancing and following certain standard operating procedures.”
The suggestions also call for limited train and bus services to allow workers, especially migrants, to return to their workplaces, relaxations for retailers and e-commerce companies to allow the wheels of commerce to move while maintaining ample restrictions on the movement of people.
Sharad Kumar Saraf, President of FIEO, said, “a fine balancing is required between life and livelihood, as opting for (only) one, can be disastrous for the country.”
Industry organisations are also suggesting the continuation of high import tariffs to protect them from dumping by countries like China, whose industry re-started before India, and clearing of payments by government buyers – including states and PSUs – so that industry’s cash flow problem is somewhat addressed.
1. Areas with no coronavirus cases and no inward migration of workers. Allow all sectors to function, says Ficci
2. Areas with no infection but inward migration of workers. Open up with restrictions
3. Areas where no new cases are reported. Extend lockdown by a week with rapid testing
4. Areas where new cases are cropping up. Continue strict lockdown