Hinting that a phase wise exit from lockdown was on the cards, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that the country needs to give importance to the economy as well as continue the fight against COVID -19.

The Prime Minister’s remarks came during his interaction with Chief Ministers of all states via video conferencing to discuss the plan ahead for tackling COVID-19. Discussions were held on the possibilities of a graded exit from the 40-day lockdown.

Prime Minister Modi also said the impact of coronavirus will remain visible in the coming months and masks and face covers will be part of life.

The Prime Minister also highlighted that the lockdown has yielded positive results as the country has managed to save thousands of lives in the past one and a half months.

It is reported that most of the states have sought for extending restrictions in COVID-19 containment zones. Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinnarayi Vijayan skipped the video conferencing session.

Several states wanted restrictions under the national lockdown to be eased in regions that have not witnessed local outbreaks of the coronavirus, an issue that was also deliberated in the meeting.

There is also a growing consensus among these states that notwithstanding the easing of restrictions, there should be a continued ban on mass gatherings; educational institutions must remain closed; interstate transport should be prohibited — except in cases of enabling the movement of migrant workers – and social distancing must be strictly observed.

This was the fourth meeting between the Prime Ministers and the Chief Ministers on the COVID-19 pandemic.