Chandigarh, April 24 (Punjab Mail)- Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday said he would go by the advice of the Expert Committee, set up to formulate Punjab’s lockdown exit strategy in the matter of opening up the state.

During a webinar with leading industrialists, economic experts and diplomats/ambassadors of various countries, the Chief Minister said any decision on lifting the lockdown/curfew would be taken basis the recommendations of the 20-member Expert Committee, which is expected to submit its report on Saturday.

Reiterating that his priority was saving the lives of Punjabis, the Chief Minister said “the life of my Punjabis is more important.” Factories can be restarted but we can’t get people back, he said.

If the Expert Committee, which includes medical experts and doctors, recommends opening up, either partially or completely, we will do so, he said, in response to questions. “I will go by their advice,” he declared, but made it clear that the health of the people was the priority, even though the state government was aware that the lockdown could not be kept in place indefinitely.

Pointing out that Punjab had witnessed three peaks in the Covid curve in the past 40 days, the Chief Minister said it may not be possible to lift the lockdown completely for some more time, but the state will examine the recommendations of the Expert Committee and the prevailing ground situation.  In Punjab, of the 22 districts, 5 are currently in Green Zone. The Prime Minister is also scheduled to consult with the chief ministers of all states on the issue of lifting the lockdown through a video conference on Monday.

The Chief Minister, during the webinar, extended his condolences to the Italian ambassador, Vincenzo de Luca, for the large number of lives lost in their country due to the Covid pandemic. The envoy, on his part, expressed solidarity with the people of Punjab in their fight against the Coronavirus.

Pointing to the over one lakh Punjabis living in Italy, which is one of the most affected countries in the world, the ambassador urged the Punjab government to explore prospects for more investment by  Italian companies in the state, especially in the field of food processing and agricultural machinery manufacturing. In response, the Chief Minister directed Invest Punjab to discuss the issue with the Italian team and find investment opportunities for them.

Even the ambassador of Denmark, Freddy Svane, expressed keen interest in exploring investment opportunities in Punjab and requested the chief minister to take up the issue of some clearance pending with the GoI.

Besides others, the webinar was also attended by Ishteyaque Amjad, Vice president, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca Cola India, Ajay Khanna

Group Chief – Strategic & Public Affairs & Group Ombudsman, Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd, Amardeep Singh Ahluwalia, Chief Corporate affairs officer United Breweries Ltd, and Raman Sidhu, former President and Founder Member of PAFI. Senior Punjab Officials, including CPSCM, Suresh Kumar, ACS industry, Vini Mahajan, ACS Development, Vishwajit Khanna, and CEO invest Punjab, Rajat Aggarwal, also attended the video conference meeting.