70 days after lockdown, Mumbaiites will be able to go for a walk, run from June 3Updated: Jun 01, 2020 00:52 IST
In a major respite to citizens after 70 days of lockdown, the state government has permitted outdoor activities such as walking, running, jogging and cycling in public open spaces from June 3.
Much like major cities around the world, it has also encouraged cycling as a form of physical exercise “as it automatically ensures social distancing.” Cities like London, Dublin and Sydney are being reshaped to accommodate more cyclists and pedestrians.
In its notification titled ‘Mission Begin Again’ released on Sunday, the state has permitted plumbers, electricians and pest-control services with masks, sanitisers and social-distancing norms to function between 5am and 7pm. While the notification is still not clear on allowing house help, a concern for many citizens in Mumbai, government officials said domestic help are allowed to be employed in red zones, if the housing societies allow.
They are, however, not allowed to work in containment zones and they should not be coming from containment zones.
In a text reply to HT, Bhushan Gagrani, a senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who is also a member of the control room set up to deal with the outbreak, said, “We are silent on that [allowing domestic help]. Societies should take a call.” The state has permitted opening beaches, public and private playgrounds, however, it has advised citizens to only access nearby open spaces and avoid crowded spaces. “People are advised to stay outdoors only for purposes of physical activities for a limited duration,” the notification states.
For phase 2 of the ‘Mission Begin Again’, which is effective from June 5, the state has asked citizens to walk or cycle to their neighbourhood markets. It has also discouraged citizens from taking out their vehicles for shopping.
While transport experts said it is a positive step to encourage cycling, the state also needs to look at requisite infrastructure. “If cycling has to be looked at as a means of normal travel, the right infrastructure has to be provided and it has also to be incentivised. In case of open spaces, the number of cases in the city and state are still high, so people need to exercise caution,” said AV Shenory from the Mumbai Mobility Forum.
Pranav Naik, a Mumbai-based architect, who mostly cycles to work, said the monsoon will prove to be a major difficulty for cyclists. “I had already kept my cycle away thinking I won’t use it now. It’s a good sign, but the monsoon will make it tough,” Naik said.
Firoza Suresh, bicycle mayor of Mumbai, said, “It is the perfect time to encourage cycling in Indian cities as people might fear using shared mobility services. And now that we are talking about cycling, the state must look at the right infrastructure for it.”