April 24: The government hinted that it would take decision on lifting the lockdown after reviewing necessary concerns, including the steps taken by neighbouring India to control the spread of COVID-19.
Government spokesperson Yuba Raj Khatiwada said that coronavirus is a pandemic and the Government of Nepal cannot take a unilateral decision in this matter of worldwide concern. The government had imposed the lockdown on March 24. The lockdown is expiring on April 27.
Speaking at a press conference organised on Thursday (April 23) to share the decisions taken by the cabinet, Finance Minister Khatiwada said that saving people’s lives was the government’s first priority.
According to Khatiwada, the government is considering the measures taken by India to prevent the spread of coronavirus and Nepal’s preparedness to fight the pandemic by ensuring medical supplies, necessary infrastructures, people's awareness and social distancing before lifting the lockdown.
Minister Khatiwada made it clear that the lockdown could be extended if required.
However, he said that the government would relax the restriction to some extent to allow industries providing basic needs to operate under certain criteria like maintaining physical distancing and proper hygiene.
Minister Khatiwada also added that the government is set to announce its policies and programmes as well as the annual budget of the next fiscal year in two phases.
He said that the government will include short-term and mid-term programmes in the upcoming budget.
Meanwhile, the cabinet meeting also approved loan assistance of US$ 100 million fro the International Monetary Fund, informed Khatiwada.