India begins easing coronavirus restrictions

India is easing a stay-at-home order aimed at combatting the spread of the coronavirus that has been in place since late March.

Some businesses reopened on Monday in the capital New Delhi to help ease the strain on the country's economy. The move came on the heels of a government decision to extend the stay-at-home order to May 17.

The government assigns regions to one of three categories depending on the number of newly confirmed cases in the area. It is to lift restrictions in stages, with the pace set according to the number of infections.

During the lockdown, people have been banned from going out except for trips to buy daily necessities.

But beginning on Monday regions with no new infections are allowed to start lifting restrictions. Even in areas with a significant number of cases, some small shops and offices will be permitted to reopen if precautions are taken.

India's largely deserted capital saw a sharp increase in car and motorcycle traffic as many people went back to work on Monday.

At a reopened home-appliance shop, members of staff wear masks and gloves. They urge customers to use hand sanitizer and to request items from within the shop that can be brought to them near the entrance.

One member of staff said it has been a tough month and a half. He said he wants to put people's health first as they go about their business.

India has yet to bring the pandemic under control, with the daily number of new cases of infection topping 2,000 over the past several days.

The government has been under pressure to restart economic activity as the lockdown has left a huge number of people out of a job. But some have voiced concern over the possibility that infection numbers may surge with the easing of strictures.