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Opinion

The Challenge of Blocking 3.0 | HT Editorial – Editorials

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The first day of closing 3.0 has shown the challenges involved in the gradual opening of the country. On Friday, the Union government devised a complex order, which classified the country into red, green, and orange zones; banned a set of activities at the national level; and allowed other activities, to varying degrees, in different areas. This makes sense. India needed a calibrated loosening to ensure that there was no immediate increase in cases.

But for this approach to be successful, there were two prerequisites. The first was proper bureaucratic implementation, and this was always going to be difficult due to the inability of local police officials or district authorities to distinguish between what was allowed and what was prohibited, and who to allow and who to stop. But the second most important prerequisite was that citizens exercise a high degree of responsibility.

On day 1, this was missing. The most egregious reflection of this was in the liquor stores. People lined up in hundreds, often without masks, fighting each other, to buy boxes of alcohol. The police authorities had, in some cases, to resort to lathi-charge or to close stores. Liquor is an important source of revenue for state governments. Given the dire state of public finances as well as popular demand, the opening of stores made sense. But if citizens behave with such irresponsibility, do not rule out a revision of the rules in the future. In times of the pandemic, it’s not just about drinking responsibly, but also buying it responsibly. It is about maintaining social distance and knowing that the right to leave carries responsibilities.

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