Lockdown 4.0 begins with fewer restrictions and greater powers for states to decide zoning and reopening of commercial activities. With the Centre now falling back after leading the first three phases, states must take immediate charge of decision making and evolve a roadmap for local economic revival while fine-tuning Covid containment (the action of keeping something harmful under control or within limits) strategies.
With restrictions on movement lifting, more economic activity will naturally follow. Outbreak of fresh Covid cases shouldn’t lead to defensiveness or attempts to hide outbreaks or deaths. Instead, they should be a call for aggressive disease surveillance, testing, contact tracing and doorstep visits. If the state has the healthcare end sewn up, people can confidently embark on exiting the lockdown. The temptation (desire) to penalise businesses with unreasonable regulations must be avoided. But those not adhering to basic social distancing measures like wearing masks must be dealt with firmly.
Centre mustn’t withdraw from its coordinating role yet. For example, it has left it to states to decide the modalities of inter-state transport. States have been excessively touchy about border management and migrant labour movement is still immense (massive). The buildup of labourers at borders with delays and hurdles in crossing over is a sure recipe for disease and unrest. Lockdown 4.0 should gradually ease into what we can call a “new normal” where people maintain distancing as far as possible and follow basic hygiene instructions like wearing masks and washing hands, while governments focus on beefing up healthcare systems. The economy is in a parlous state, and livelihoods must take precedence now.