PM Modi announced a Covid-19 taskforce that would draw up measures to combat the economic effects of the pandemic, told employers not to cut the pay of staff and called for a “Janata Curfew” on Sunday. He warned of the outbreak’s “wide-ranging” economic impact, underscoring the need to be prepared.
“There is a need to follow two important things to fight this pandemic — resolve and restraint,” he said in a televised address on Thursday. He appealed to businesses to act with empathy
while assuring people that there are no shortages and telling them to avoid panic buying. Senior citizens should stay indoors and others should not leave home unless essential. The country needed to be vigilant and it would be wrong to assume that the coronavirus won’t have a greater impact than it already has. The country needed to be vigilant and it would be wrong to assume that the coronavirus won’t have a greater impact than it already has. “In the past few days, it is appearing as if we have averted the crisis, and everything is okay. Complacency in respect of a global pandemic like coronavirus is not appropriate,” the PM said. He pointed out that social distancing was “very important and effective as well”.
He said the Janata Curfew will be observed on March 22 between 7 am and 9 pm, comparing it to blackouts during wartime. “During this curfew, we shall neither leave our homes nor get onto the streets or roam about our localities. Only those associated with emergency and essential services will leave home,” the PM said. “This Janata Curfew will in a way be a litmus test for us. This is also the time to see how prepared India is to fight off a global pandemic like the coronavirus.” The economic task force will be headed by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
“This global pandemic is also going to have a wide-ranging impact on the economy. Keeping in mind the economic challenges arising from the coronavirus, the government has decided to set up a Covid-19 Economic Response Taskforce under the leadership of the finance minister,” the prime minister said. “This task force will take decisions in the near future, based on regular interactions and feedback from all stakeholders, and analysis of all situations and dimensions. This task force will also ensure that all steps taken to reduce the economic difficulties are effectively implemented.”
He said India has enough food and ration supplies. “Be it milk, eatables, medicines, essential things — we have taken all steps to avoid any shortage. These supplies will never be stopped, so please do not hoard them,” Modi said. He asked citizens to act with determination and patience. “I need some of your upcoming weeks. You have to commit to saving yourselves from infection
and others from being infected,” the PM said. He asked people to avoid crowded places and going out, saying people would be doing an injustice to themselves and their families otherwise. “Try and do your jobs or business from your home,” Modi said.
He also asked people to avoid going to hospitals for routine check-ups and postpone any surgeries by a month so as to not overburden medical facilities and staff. He also warned people against rumours and appealed to employers to support staff and not cut the wages of those working in their companies and homes.
“It is clear that this pandemic is deeply hurting the economic interests and wellbeing of our nation’s middle class, lower-middle-class, and poor segments. In such a time of crisis, I request the business world and high-income segments of society to as much as possible, look after the economic interests of all the people who provide them services,” he said. “In the coming few days, it is possible these people may not be able to come to the office or your homes. In such a case, do treat them with empathy and humanity and not deduct their salaries. Always keep in mind that they too need to run their homes, protect their families from illness.”
The prime minister also called on the country to express its gratitude to those working to keep the country going, such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, municipal staff and airport workers by going out on their balconies or standing at their doors and windows at 5 pm on March 22 and clapping, banging on their plates or ringing bells.
“Be it doctors, nurses, hospital staff, housekeeping staff, airlines staff, government servants, police personnel, media persons, railways, bus, autorickshaw, home delivery people — they are serving others, by not taking care of themselves,” he said. “They are… like protectors of the nation. The country is obliged to them.” He asked people for their support in the upcoming weeks as no vaccine had yet been discovered.
“In the countries where the impact of coronavirus is the maximum, it has been seen that there has been an explosion in the number of cases after initial days. Some countries have also taken necessary decisions and isolated their people,” Modi said.