After the mass migration of labourers taking place in northern India due to the nationwide lockdown, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Saturday announced that the state will relax the COVID-19 lockdown for 13 hours on March 31 so as to facilitate the movement of buses within the state in order to let stranded people move to their hometowns and villages.
"There will be relaxation in coronavirus lockdown in the state for 13 hours on 31st March from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, for the movement of buses within the state, to let stranded people move to their hometowns and villages," said Trivendra Singh Rawat, Chief Minister, Uttarakhand.
"Shops selling essential commodities will remain open from 7 am to 1 pm; food and stay arrangements have been made at Uttarakhand Bhawan in Delhi and Mumbai for people from the state," he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday announced a 21-day lockdown in the entire country in a bid to contain the spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19, saying that "social distancing" is the only way to deal with the disease, which spreads rapidly.
However, daily wage labourers in huge number started their journey for their native places in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand owing to no work and earnings for them in cities given the lockdown. Some were seen travelling on bicycles, while many have been journeying on foot with women and children.
With the question of how long the lockdown would prolong, the migrants being unsure of their future in the cities decided to move back to their native places, defying the lockdown despite the state governments' assurance of the provision of food and stay during the curfew period.
The mass migration has posed massive risks of spreading the virus on an even larger scale when already the number of COVID-19 positive cases has been increasing by the hour in the country. India has witnessed a swell in coronavirus cases as the number of infected individuals surged to 909 with 19 deaths as on Saturday, March 28, while 79 cases have recovered and been discharged according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.