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Deploy cops to impose complete lockdown: Maharashtra CM

The Maharashtra government’s complete lockdown came into effect on Thursday evening, with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray directing the state police to impose restrictions strictly, even as the state continued to report over 60,000 cases for three days in a row
By Faisal Malik, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON APR 23, 2021 12:15 AM IST

The Maharashtra government’s complete lockdown came into effect on Thursday evening, with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray directing the state police to impose restrictions strictly, even as the state continued to report over 60,000 cases for three days in a row.

As part of the notification for strict restrictions on movement of people, generally called lockdown, people can’t step out unless they need medical attention or are working in an essential sector or want to buy essential commodities, that too for restricted timings — between 7am and 11am. While local train and metro train travel have been restricted to essential sectors and those in need of medical attention, other public transport modes such as buses have been allowed to ply, but at 50% of the seating capacity. Even those going for vaccination would be allowed to travel. The fresh restrictions will continue till 7am on May 1.

The state government may extend the restrictions in case the daily cases don’t dip. The state will take a decision after reviewing the situation by the end of this month, the officials said.

Thackeray held a meeting with deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, home minister Dilip Walse Patil and director general of police (DGP) Sanjay Pande over strict implementation of the restrictions. “The DGP was directed to deploy the police force in substantial numbers at places to deter people from stepping out of their homes unnecessarily. They were asked to avoid using force and engaging in arguments and instead book offenders using provisions of the existing laws,” said a senior official, privy to the development.

State health minister Rajesh Tope said they have decided to strictly restrict people’s movement. “Breaking the chain of infection is necessary to bring down the cases, hence it has been decided to impose a lockdown. We have decided to strictly curb movement that includes restrictions on inter-district movement and internal district movement as well. People will be allowed to step out if there is a death or a medical emergency, else they won’t be allowed to travel,” Tope said. “Free movement of people will not be allowed in this period.”

Attendance in government and exempted category offices has also been reduced to 15%, while those coming under essential category have been allowed to work at maximum 50% capacity.

Public transport buses, including BEST in Mumbai, will be allowed to ply for all, but at 50% of the sitting capacity. Besides, taxis and autorickshaws will remain operational at 50% capacity and strictly following Covid protocols.

To reduce mobility between cities and districts, travelling in public buses has been reduced to 50% of their sitting capacity. Passengers travelling inter-city/district in public transport buses will have to mandatorily go in quarantine for 14 days, with mandatory stamping on their hands, while a rapid antigen test on them at alighting point can be considered by local authorities, stated the order issued by chief secretary Sitaram Kunte on Thursday.

The decision for complete lockdown was taken in a special cabinet meeting held on Tuesday.

The state health department had expressed concern over the surge in daily cases as going by their projection the tally of active cases is likely to go up to 1.1 million cases, which will overwhelm the entire health infrastructure and situation may go out of control. More than 80% health infrastructure is already occupied. As the state is struggling with shortage of oxygen and anti-viral drug such as Remdesivir, ministers insisted on a complete lockdown in the cabinet meeting.

“All shops related to groceries, vegetables, fruit vendors, dairies, bakeries and confectionaries, including those of chicken, mutton, poultry, fish and eggs, have been allowed to operate between 7am and 11am. Home delivery from the said shops; hotels, restaurants and bars and from e-commerce websites have also been allowed till 8pm,” said Aseem Gupta, principal secretary, disaster management and relief and rehabilitation department said. “We have brought restrictions only on public transport, offices, marriage functions and private vehicles,” he added.

The wedding ceremony, which has proved to be a super-spreader event in the past, has been allowed in the presence of only 25 attendees. The ceremony has to be completed in two hours, while flouting of the condition may attract a fine of 50,000 to the family and action against the operator by shutting down the facility till the end of the pandemic. Flouting of rules will attract a fine of 10,000, stated the order.

“The offices from the exempted category, including banks, mediclaim, insurance sector, too, will have to reduce the attendance to 15% from the existing permission of 50%. However, offices dealing in essential services, including hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies, posts, ports, petrol pumps, petroleum companies, e-commerce companies etc. can operate at 50% capacity,” the order said.

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