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India to ease lockdown in rural areas

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India will permit several activities in rural areas starting next week, including manufacturing and infrastructure building, to provide relief to workers impacted by the coronavirus lockdown, the government said on Wednesday.

The Home Ministry guidelines came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended a nationwide lockdown to May 3.

The easing of the lockdown would start next Monday and take place only in those rural areas where there were no COVID-19 containment zones or hotspots, a Home Ministry release said.

The number of coronavirus cases has been increasing steadily.

Currently, 11,439 people have tested positive and 377 have died.

The activities would have to be carried out under strict norms of social distancing and any violation would fetch penalties.

Food processing industries, construction of roads, buildings and industrial projects would be permitted in these select areas.

Thousands of migrant workers in India’s bigger cities have been struggling through the lockdown.

Many of them are daily wage workers and support their families back in their villages.

With no immediate prospect of employment given the lockdown, they have been trying to go back to their villages.

The opening up of activities in rural areas was expected to create job opportunities for that migrant labour force, the Home Ministry said.

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