Lockdown is back in Maharashtra

The Maharashtra government on Sunday announced a partial lockdown from 8pm on Monday till the end of the month, with complete shutdowns on weekends, stricter night curfew and prohibition of assembly of more than five people during day time. As part of the lockdown, the state has ordered shops and establishments dealing in non-essential commodities, restaurants, eateries, malls, theatres, multiplexes and religious places to close.

The night curfew, which has been in place for the past week, has been made stringent by allowing only people engaged in essential services to step out of their homes from 8pm to 7am. There will be complete lockdown on weekends between 8pm on Friday to 7am on Monday. The assembly of more than five people from 7am to 8pm has also been prohibited as per the provisions of section 144 of CrPC, the notification issued by the government said.

Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray convened an urgent meeting of his council of ministers on Sunday to discuss the curbs. The partial lockdown was approved by the cabinet meeting and a detailed standard operating procedure was issued later in the day. Before the cabinet meeting, Thackeray spoke with leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray. He also held meetings with key industrialists and producers of TV serials and films.

Thackeray, in his address to the people of Maharashtra on Friday, had hinted at the stricter curbs. He had also warned that the state was on the verge of a lockdown and there may be a serious shortage of beds and healthcare services if the surge in infections continued for another 15 days.

Maharashtra reported the highest one-day spike in new cases, reporting 57,074 infections. Of this, Mumbai accounted for 11,206 cases, the highest. The number of active cases in the state stood at 430,503, including 81,317 in Pune and 66,803 in Mumbai.

The sharp rise has resulted in a shortage of hospital beds and oxygen in many cities and districts, forcing the state government to shut industrial units consuming oxygen in large quantities.

As part of the new curbs, shops, establishments operating in non-essential commodities, hotels, multiplexes, theatres, water parks, clubs, salons and beauty parlours have been shut. Religious places have also been closed, although priests attached to them have been allowed to carry out rituals.

Private offices, too, have been instructed to shift to work-from-home mode, while government offices are allowed to work at 50% of their workforce. Private offices in essential sectors, including banking, insurance, pharmaceuticals, water and power supply, are allowed to operate from offices, while government offices dealing with the covid-19 pandemic will operate at full capacity. “We are not touching the industrial sector as it is directly linked with the financial health of the state. The industrial units, construction sites are allowed to operate, while the shooting of films and TV serials can go on by adhering to the covid-19 protocol,” Nawab Malik, minority affairs minister, said after the cabinet meeting. He said that public transport, including trains, buses, autos, taxis and flights, can operate at 50% of their seating capacity.

The government has not reduced the number of local trains for the general public in Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The e-commerce sector has been allowed to operate with home delivery allowed between 7am and 8pm. The vaccination of delivery boys has been made mandatory, though the notification is silent about how that will be achieved since most of them are below 45 years of age.

Housing societies with more than five patients will now be declared as mini containment zones, with no outsiders allowed to visit the premises, the statement issued by the publicity department said.

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