Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday assured transporters that the government will soon make efforts to restart public transport services, which have been suspended since the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on March 25.

“The government will soon make efforts to start buses on the basis of certain guidelines,” Gadkari said during a conversation with the members of Bus and Car Operators Confederation of India. “We need to start airlines, railways, and bus transport at some level, because people are stranded in several places.”

Gadkari also emphasised on the need to maintain physical distance and adopt all safety measures like washing hands and wearing protective masks while operating buses and cars.

There has been no official word from the Centre on the restoration of public transport. On May 3, the government had extended the nationwide lockdown by two more weeks till May 17 but with some relaxations.

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Buses and cabs have been allowed to run in green and orange zones. Certain industries and standalone shops have also been allowed to open.

All domestic and international air travel, passenger movement by train, except for purposes permitted by the home ministry, and inter-state buses remain suspended.

Stranded migrant workers, however, are allowed to undertake inter-state travel in special trains arranged by the government.

The Centre will also start bringing back Indians stranded abroad from May 7. On Tuesday, the government said that it will operate 64 flights during the first week of the massive evacuation plan to bring back stranded citizens. The government also prepared a standard operating protocol for the passengers, involving screening for Covid-19 before taking the flight and after reaching the destination.

India has so far reported 49,391 cases of the coronavirus and 1,694 deaths, according to data from the Union health ministry.