Speaking in a televised address on Tuesday (April 14), India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he is prolonging the countrywide lockdown until May 3 but will relax some restrictions in the technology sector starting April 20, according to several reports.
Since the technology sector is so important to the growth of India’s economy, the government said it will allow some IT firms to let 50 percent of their staff work at the office. The relaxed restrictions would apply to companies that are not located in a COVID-19 hotspot.
“eCommerce operations, operations of IT and IT-enabled services, data and call centers for government activities, and online teaching and distance learning are all permitted activities now," according to the revised guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Security restrictions and lack of remote infrastructure prompted some IT staff to work on-site despite the lockdown. Debjani Ghosh, president of the IT trade association NASSCOM, said last month that nearly 90 percent of staffers were working remotely. Even when offices are allowed to bring back 50 percent of staff, NASSCOM said on Twitter that it recommends firms operate with 15 to 20 percent initially, Ghosh said.
“Until 20th April, every town, every police station, every district, every state will be evaluated on how much the lockdown is being followed. Areas that succeed in this litmus test, those which will not be in the hot-spot category, and will have less likelihood to turn into a hot-spot maybe allowed to open up select necessary activities from 20th April,” Modi said.
“However, permissions will be withdrawn immediately if lockdown rules are broken, and if there is threat of spread of Coronavirus,” he added.
Modi also said that the country has plenty of necessities in reserve and supply chain issues are being resolved. “We are making rapid progress in ramping up health infrastructure as well. From having only one testing lab for Coronavirus in January, we now have more than 220 functional testing labs.”
In other news from India, online food delivery platform Swiggy raised $43 million as part of its ongoing Series I round to develop and expand its new businesses despite the world being in the midst of a lockdown to stop the coronavirus pandemic. Swiggy has branched out beyond food delivery and will use some of the latest funding to advance new businesses that address market gaps.