(NEW DELHI) — India relaxed some coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Monday even as the pace of infection picked up and reopenings drew crowds of people.
The near-total 5-week lockdown on India’s 1.3 billion population achieved a slowdown in the spread of the virus but has caused immense hardship for India’s legions of poor people, who could neither stay in cities without work nor travel to their home villages and waited in line daily for hot meals. Some degree of lockdown will continue at least until May 18.
A tentative return to normal life, albeit with masks, social distancing and stringent hygiene standards, resumed in low-risk areas with few or no cases, while constraints on movement and work continued elsewhere in the country. In New Delhi, a designated hot spot where many lockdown restrictions remained, construction workers, Uber drivers and self-employed people such as housekeepers returned to work.
During the lockdown, only businesses deemed essential, such as grocery stores, banks and pharmacies, were open. The sale of alcohol was banned. But on Monday, a broader array of business was permitted. More than 100 people, not all observing social distancing norms, stood in line to enter a liquor store.
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