CEOs warn against another lockdown – The Week

Top CEOs from across the country have warned against imposing another lockdown over COVID-19, even as all indications are that Maharashtra, the nation’s centre of industry and commerce, is headed into a lockdown soon.

COVID-19 curfew and micro-containment strategies along with COVID-19-appropriate behaviour would be more effective to contain the spread of the second wave was the majority opinion. This came about in a poll of more than 700 top corporate heads in the country by the business association CII.

With night curfews on in many cities and states across the country and fears that there could be a full lockdown on the way, many companies revealed that they were thinking of stocking raw materials in excess to meet any future shortages, while 31 per cent of industry leaders said they would accommodate their labour force in the factory in case further restrictions are put in place.

With significant scientific knowledge on the pandemic by now compared with an year earlier when the first lockdown was imposed, and with a nationwide vaccination drive on, India should also focus on protecting livelihoods along with lives in its fight against the pandemic, was the resounding feeling of the business community.

Three-fourths of the 710 CEOs polled felt partial lockdown measures would affect the movement of labour as well as goods, leading to significant decline in industrial production. More than half warned that loss of production could be even up to 50 per cent if there were restrictions that affected movement of goods.

The CEOs polled by CII came from both manufacturing as well as services sectors. MSME honchos constituted 68 per cent of the respondents.

“Protecting livelihoods along with lives is essential, and industry is keen to work with the government on universal coverage (18 years and above) of vaccination programme and in implementing strict health and safety protocols,” said Tata Steel MD and CII president-designate T.V. Narendran.

“The government handled both lives and livelihoods effectively during the first wave. It could do so again by keeping industrial activities out of the ambit of partial lockdowns aimed at restricting social gatherings. This will help India recover from the economic contraction and stabilise the upward growth trends being currently witnessed in several sectors,” he added.

Over 60 per cent of CEOs suggested that the government should allow movement of workers in all shifts during night curfews and also free movement of goods along with the required personnel to facilitate the movement of goods. Over 1,000 Indian companies and their employees are also set to take to social media to promote vaccination as well as following COVID-19 protocols like wearing masks, sanitising and maintaining social distancing, CII additionally announced.

This content was originally published here.