Indian states on Sunday began identifying high-risk zones where coronavirus lockdowns should continue while the rest of country gears up to reopen in June despite a record rise in COVID-19 cases, officials said.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has extended lockdown until June 30 in so-called containment zones that should remain under lockdown because they continue to report a high number of infections.


But restaurants, malls and religious buildings are permitted to reopen elsewhere from June 8 as India loosens the world’s longest lockdown to curb the spread of the spread of the pandemic.


India has reported 182,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 5,164 deaths.


Indian Railways

The Indian Railways will begin operations of 200 trains, in which 145,000 passengers will travel on the first day, from Monday.
At 9 am on Sunday, the number of bookings stood at 2.58 million for the advance reservation period (ARP) from June 1 to June 30.


“These trains are on the pattern of regular trains. These are fully reserved trains having both air conditioned (AC) and non AC classes. General (GS) coaches have reserved seats for sitting accommodation. There will be no unreserved coach in the train,” said the Indian Railways in a statement on Sunday.

Passengers for these trains will have to reach the station 90 minutes before the departure to facilitate thermal screening. Only passengers who are found asymptomatic will be permitted to travel.


In Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, a health official said 1,111 containment zones has been identified, while authorities in Gujarat said that more than 400,000 houses were marked as high-risk zones.


Officials in Maharastra said all markets, except malls and congested spaces, will be allowed to function in a staggered manner.West Bengal identified 285 containment zones in its capital, Kolkata.


In a radio address to the nation on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned citizens to remain vigilant.

“The fight against the coronavirus is intense, we cannot drop our guard,” he said.


The number of cases reached a daily record high in the past 48 hours, two months after the federal government enforced a rigid lockdown to stop the pandemic from spreading in a country of more than 1.3 billion people.


Critics said Modi had now left states with the responsibility of establishing rules to contain the virus.


Maha's ‘Mission Begin Again’ 

Mahrashtra has issued fresh guidelines allowing the resumption of a number of activities including malls and market areas, a day after the Centre issued a blueprint for restarting economic activities outside containment zones. 

In its guidelines, ‘Mission Begin Again’, issued on Sunday, Maharashtra departed from the Centre’s guidelines. CM Uddhav Thackeray said the state needed to tread cautiously now that monsoon was round the corner. It said intra-district bus services can operate, but inter-district bus operations will remain restricted.

Restrictions will remain in force in containment zones and the municipal corporation areas of Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad. In phase 1 of the easing starting June 3, individuals in these areas will be allowed to exercise in open public spaces including beaches, playgrounds, gardens and promenades between 5 am and 7 pm. 

From June 5, all markets, market areas and shops, except malls and market complexes, will be allowed to function on an odd-even basis from 9 am to 5 pm. The movement of individuals will be prohibited between 9 pm and 5 am except for essential activities, according to the Maharashtra guidelines.

The state, however, allowed shooting for films and serials. 

The state has allowed all private offices to operate, but with only 10 per cent strength, from June 8, and markets and shops can open from June 5 on odd-even basis. 

Autos and cabs with two occupants were allowed in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Pune, and nine other cities in a phased manner. Parks, gardens, and beaches will be open between 5am and 7pm, but no group activity will be allowed.


Under 'Mission Begin Again', outdoor physical activities like morning walks, cycling will be allowed. Self employed persons like plumbers, electricians, pest control staff and technicians will be allowed to work, but they will have to follow social distancing norms. Garages can also function and customers can visit them with prior appointment.