India announces rollback of coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

India is easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions in some neighborhoods mildly affected by the virus.

The country initially mandated stay-at-home orders its entire 1.3 billion population in an effort to quell the spread of coronavirus; law enforcement did not refrain from using tough measures including imprisonment, if necessary, to deter people from going out.


The imposed lockdown began March 25 and is due to end May 3.

However, on Saturday, officials permitted some small shops in residential areas to reopen with 50 percent of their staff members working at a time. People were still mandated to wear gloves and masks, along with practicing social distancing.

A home ministry statement issued late Friday instructed that shops in single- and multi-brand malls would not be allowed to open anywhere in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned that the "war" against COVID-19 was far from over, though.

On Sunday, the death toll climbed to at least 826 people with an additional 26,917 cases in the country. India’s densely populated cities, coupled with poor sanitation infrastructure and high traffic and migration, have made it a hotbed for the virus to breed, giving health officials pause. The hardest-hit states -- which included Maharashtra with 6,817 positive cases, Gujarat with 3,815 cases, New Delhi with 2,514 and Rajasthan with 2,034 cases -- won't be allowed to reopen just yet.

"We should not be trapped into over-confidence and nurse the belief that coronavirus has not reached our city, our village, our streets, our office, and so will not reach them," Modi said in a radio address over the weekend.

Home Ministry officials said the rise in India's positive cases was linear, not exponential.


"Physical distancing, covering the face with a cover or a mask and washing our hands again and again will be the biggest medicine to fight this disease in the days to come," Modi added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.