India Extends Lockdown By A Month

India has extended its Covid-19 lockdown by a month to 30 June as new cases continue to hit record highs. But prime minister Narendra Modi has opened up large parts of the transport sector, retail businesses and industry to revive an ailing economy, providing a further boost to fuel demand.
The government has allowed shopping malls, hotels and restaurants to open from 8 June after domestic air travel was allowed from 25 May. Places of worship can also open from 8 June.
Demand for fuels picked up in the second half of May, an official from India’s biggest refiner state-controlled IOC said. Sales of diesel, India’s most consumed fuel, dropped by 55pc to 808,000 b/d in April from 1.8mn b/d a year earlier, according to oil ministry data, and gasoline demand dropped by 60pc to 274,000 b/d from 693,000 b/d the previous year. But diesel sales fell by 28pc only and gasoline dropped by 48pc from a year earlier in the first 15 days of May, according to data from state-oil refiners that account for around 90pc of the country’s oil product sales.
The number of Covid-19 cases is rapidly rising, with a record 8,392 cases in the past 24 hours. India’s total case count is nearing 200,000 with 5,394 deaths. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Gujarat account for most of the cases, but the count in other states continues to tick up after the government airlifted stranded Indians from abroad, allowed migrants to return to hometowns in trains and buses, and threw open public transport. The government has also allowed the transport of passengers and goods by road, barring metro trains, and the railways have increased the number of trains.
A strict lockdown will continue in containment zones, which are parts of cities or towns with a high incidence of cases. Delhi has 122 containment zones and has also sealed all its borders for a week.
The government expects resumption of retail, transport and businesses to revive the economy in the absence of an adequate fiscal stimulus. Indian state-run refineries have increased runs to 80-90pc and stepped up crude imports on the back of a revival of fuel demand.
A decision to reopen educational institutions will be made next month. Orders to reopen international travel, cinemas, bars and public gatherings will be taken in the future, the government did not disclose details.