No Maha lockdown, but more curbs to break Covid chain

Rethink after Prime Minister Modi’s plea to states to consider lockdown as a last resort.

Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray

The Maharashtra government, which was all set to impose a lockdown, instead issued new stricter restrictions under the “Break the Chain’ initiative in the state till 1 May in the backdrop of rising Covid-19 cases. It was a “unanimous suggestion” by all ministers in Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. The rethink on the lockdown option is being attributed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message to states to consider lockdown as only the last resort and considering the PM’s appeal, a decision for a lockdown was called off.

Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Aslam Shaikh said, “The Maharashtra government had planned for a strict lockdown, but because the PM said that lockdown should be the last resort, we took back our decision and applied strict restrictions. In any case, people will have to follow the strict norms.”

As per the fresh set of guidelines, Central, state and local governing body offices shall function with 15 per cent attendance. But emergency services dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic will be exempt from this rule. Other government and private offices, allowed to operate as per the earlier rules, can function with 15 per cent strength or five people, whichever is more, stated the notification. For all the office works required for essential services mentioned in Section 2 of the “Break the Chain” order dated 13 April 2021, should work at lowest required capacity for the same and in no case exceed 50%.Attendance of personnel actually delivering the essential services on the ground should also be minimized, but can be extended up to 100% as per the requirements.

Restrictions were also imposed with respect to marriages which will be a single event in a single hall not extending beyond two hours with a maximum of total 25 persons attending the same. Violation of this rule will attract a fine of Rs 50,000, the notification said.

Restrictions were put on travel, too, including a ban on inter-city and inter-district travel in an attempt to bring the spiralling coronavirus infections under control. As for inter-city and inter-district travel ban, exemption will be made for travel for medical emergency, essential services, funeral or medical attendance. Travelling will be allowed with 50 per cent capacity of the vehicle.

Passengers travelling by private buses will have to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days after they reach their destination. Bus operators will have to stamp the passengers’ hands to indicate they are supposed to stay at home for 14 days.

Meanwhile, local trains, known as Mumbai’s lifeline, will run only for employees from the essential services, whereby only government employees, doctors, nurses, and essential service personnel can use the local trains. Other citizens cannot travel by local trains.

To contain the spread of the virus, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday announced stern curbs in the state. The Maharashtra government restricted operation timings for grocery shops from 7 am to 11 am.