Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation at 4 pm on Tuesday, a day after the Centre announced more relaxations to the lockdown enforced to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday issued new guidelines for loosening restrictions as part of “Unlock 2”, the second of the three-phase plan for a calibrated exit from the lockdown. Under the “Unlock 1” phase that began on June 1, the Centre had allowed hotels, malls and places of worship to reopen, subject to state approval.
Modi had held meetings with chief ministers and heads of states and Union Territories on June 16 and June 17, to discuss further measures to combat the coronavirus.
The prime minister’s address also comes at a time when India’s coronavirus cases are rising at the fastest daily rate in the past four months. As of Monday evening, India had reported 5,48,318 cases of Covid-19, including 16,475 deaths. The Centre said the recovery rate had reached 58.67%.
In his monthly “Mann ki Baat” radio programme on Sunday, Modi had appealed to people to be more cautious in the “Unlock” phases and follow all safety measures. “By not wearing masks, you endanger the lives of other people,” the prime minister said. “I urge you to not be callous. Maintain do-gaz-doori [six-foot distance] from others.”
Modi expressed confidence that India will defeat the obstacles created by the coronavirus crisis. “People are wondering when 2020 will end,” Modi said. “They feel it has been a year of many challenges. There could be any number of challenges but our history shows that we have always overcome them.”
The prime minister added that the “Unlock” phase also helped open certain sectors of India’s economy. “India is unlocking, be it in sectors like coal, space, agriculture and more,” he said. “This is the time to work together to make India self-reliant and technologically advanced.”
Modi had also addressed the recent border tensions with China and said that India gave a befitting reply to those who eyed its territory in Ladakh. The prime minister praised soldiers for their brave fight in the violent face-off between Indian and Chinese forces earlier this month.
Twenty Indian soldiers were killed and 76 injured in a violent altercation with Chinese forces in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on the intervening night of June 15-June 16. The face-off between the two neighbouring countries was the worst instance of violence along the Line of Actual Control since 1975.