21-day lockdown from 24 March; industry to bear the brunt

In a decision, which is likely to impact the industry, as well as the economy as a whole in the long term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared a three-week nationwide lockdown starting midnight on 24 Tuesday. The Prime Minister said that it was the only way of breaking the Covid-19 infection cycle. This essentially extends the lockdown from most states and Union Territories to the entire country and provides a more definite timeline. “Social distancing is the only way to break the cycle of infection,” he said.

25 Mar 2020 | By PrintWeek Team

All other lockdown conditions, such as the availability of essential commodities, remain the same, the government clarified. In his second address to the nation on the Covid-19 outbreak, Modi told people to stay inside their homes for 21 days, warning that if they didn’t do so the country would be set back 21 years and families would be destroyed. His last address was on the outbreak was on March 19.

While this precaution may be the need of the hour, in economic terms, the lockdown will have an adverse affect on the industry. The book printing segment is already experiencing the effects with most publishers deciding to wait out the situation instead of carrying on with the regular schedule.

As the lockdown days increases, shopfloors of most converters will remain closed, and this will effect scheduling of orders.

While the government has issued a notification that said all essential services will remain open, as before, and all essential commodities and medicines would be available. Banks, ATMs, petrol pumps, hospitals and grocery shops will continue to function. However, all transport services — air, rail and roadways — will remain suspended until 14 April.

The closure of transport services will be another blow for the industry as it will impact the supply chain and last mile connectivity.

Meanwhile, according to The Economic Times, corporate India has welcomed the lockdown. “These are tough decisions, but they need to be taken to ensure that we can fight Covid-19,” N Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons, said.

During his last address, Modi also announced that the Centre had created a ‘Covid-19 Economic Response Task Force’ under the Union Finance Minister to manage the economic repercussions of the current situation.

The Prime Minister said the lockdown will come at an “economic cost”, but his top priority was to save lives. “I fold my hands to say — please stay where you are,” the PM said. “All leading experts say 21 days is the minimum we require to break the coronavirus transmission cycle. If we are not able to handle these 21 days, the country and your family will go back 21 years and many families will be destroyed. I am saying this not as the Prime Minister but as your family member.”

(Courtesy: Agency)

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