Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to all chief ministers on Thursday and sought their views on extension of the ongoing nationwide lockdown beyond May 31, officials said.
The telephonic conversations of the home minister came just three days before the end of the fourth phase of the lockdown.
The nationwide curbs was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 for 21 days in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. It was first extended till May 3 and then again till May 17. The lockdown was further extended for the third time till May 31.
“The home minister spoke to all chief ministers and sought their views on extending the lockdown beyond May 31,” a home ministry official said.
During his talks with the chief ministers, Shah sought to know the areas of concern of the states and the sectors they want to open up further from June 1, the official said.
Interestingly, till now, it was Prime Minister Modi who had interacted with all chief ministers through video conference before extension of each phase of the coronavirus-induced lockdown and sought their views.
This was for the first time that the home minister spoke to the chief ministers individually before the end of another phase of the lockdown.
Shah was present in all the conferences of chief ministers along with the prime minister.
Details of the views of the chief ministers were not known immediately but it is understood that majority of them wanted the lockdown to continue in some form but also opening up of the economic activities and gradual return of the normal life, another official said.
The central government is expected to announce its decision on the lockdown within the next three days.
As on Thursday, the death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 4,531 and the number of cases climbed to 1,58,333 in the country.
The number of active COVID-19 cases stands at 86,110 while 67,691 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, the health ministry has said. Thus, around 42.75 per cent patients have recovered so far, it said.
While extending the fourth phase of the lockdown till May 31, the central government had announced continuation of prohibition on opening of schools, colleges and malls but allowed opening of shops and markets.
It said hotels, restaurants, cinema halls, malls, swimming pools, gyms will remain shut even as all social, political, religious functions, and places of worship will remain close till May 31.
The government, however, allowed limited operations of train and domestic flights. The Indian Railways is also running special trains since May 1 for transportation of migrant workers from different parts of the country to their native states.