As India completes 75 days of lockdown, let me help you recall how our nation managed to survive the pandemic, focusing on each of the five phases of lockdown.
India enforced a nationwide lockdown pretty early with respect to COVID-19 cases and deaths, when compared to other countries, and has managed to keep the number of cases per lakh population well below the world’s average. In choosing between the nation’s economy and the lives of the citizens, preference was given to saving lives.
The lockdown was implemented with the aim of flattening the COVID-19 curve while buying some time to improve the healthcare facility in the country. With extending the lockdown and increasing the testing rates, the Indian Central and State Governments have tried to better manage the COVID-19 curve and lighten the impact on the healthcare systems as number of cases has not crossed the capacity of healthcare infrastructure in most districts. As the nation enters the first phase of Unlock, let’s look back at how we managed to survive the lockdown.
On 25th March India imposed a three-week-long nationwide lockdown as a measure taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. It is said to be the strongest lockdown in the world. It was placed when the number of coronavirus cases throughout the nation was roughly 500.
Lockdown 1.0 was implemented in the country with the idea that “Social distancing is the only way to break the cycle of infection”. It was made clear that the lockdown was going to be stricter than Janata Curfew, which was announced on 22nd March. This is how our long battle with coronavirus had commenced.
The first phase of lockdown succeeded in slowing the growth rate of COVID-19 cases to a rate of doubling every six days by 6th April. Seeing the result and the rise in cases, it was evident that there is a good chance that the lockdown would be extended.
On 14th April, a day before the Lockdown 1.0 was about to end, Prime Minister Modiji extended the lockdown until 3rd May. In the second phase of lockdown, though similar to its predecessor, conditional relaxations were offered after 20th April in the regions where the spread was minimal. This resumption of financially viable activities was allowed to keep the economy running.
On 16th April, lockdown areas were classified as red, orange, or green zone. The marking ‘Red Zone’ indicated the presence of infection Hotspots while ‘Green Zone’ was an indication of infection-free area.
Lockdown 2.0 witnessed a spike in the popularity of webinars and online courses, as the nation looked for ways to use this time productively while staying clear of the danger of stepping out. Online discussions and live chats also became increasingly popular in an attempt to keep the industry moving and getting the work done.
Although the extension of the lockdown was necessary to control the spread, it had its bearing on the economy.
As the number of confirmed positive cases continued to increase, though at a slower exponential pace, people expected that the lockdown would be further extended. Lockdown 3.0 was announced and it was to end on 17th May.
States had already suffered huge revenue loss amidst the coronavirus lockdown, and to combat this they unleashed one of their top revenue sources, allowing the liquor stores to open their shutter. The reason for allowing liquor sales was evident: the states combined had earned about 2.25 trillion from liquor sales in the previous fiscal year. Long queues could be seen outside liquor shops on the very first day of Lockdown 3.0.
Different levels of restrictions imposed on the three zones allowed people in green zones to gradually return to normal, while the people in red zone faced higher restrictions. Major industrial hubs like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, and Ahmedabad remained in the red zone, and due to the inter-linkage between the units in green zones and red zones, the relaxations offered did not have a great impact on the slowing economy.
Yet another phase of lockdown was declared on 17th May, but some major relaxations accompanied this announcement. Lockdown 4.0 permitted almost all economic activities along with the public movement. Private and public vehicles could now operate freely along with the functioning of markets, offices, and factories without any restrictions. The idea of zones, except the containment zone, was obliterated.
Finance Minister announced a total stimulus package worth Rs. 20,97,053 crore and a series of initiatives were taken by the government to revive the economy. Prime Minister Modi announced a Rs. 20 lakh crore economic package under AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan to make the country self-reliant and thus help in restoring the economy.
Lockdown 5.0 Unlock 1
The extended lockdown for the month of June is the first phase of reopening and would be focussed on the nation’s economy. Restrictions would only be valid for the containment zones and the opening of malls, religious places, restaurants, and hotels would commence from 8th June. Inter-state and intra-state movements of public and goods would be allowed.
Lockdown 5.0 will focus on 11 cities that account for 70% of the nation’s COVID-19 cases - Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Thane, Indore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Surat, and Kolkata.
This is the first phase of India’s lockdown-exit plan and in further phases of Unlock, more activities will be permitted. Phase 2 will mark the reopening of many of the educational institutions and Phase 3 would allow the operations of metros and recreation centers such as swimming pools, gymnasiums, and theatres.