Level-wise unlocking from Monday as Maharashtra govt eases Covid-19 lockdown curbs
In its move to unlock the lockdown imposed during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Maharashtra government has allowed most of the activities with some restrictions in parts of the state. The government has proposed level-wise categorisation of areas and regions to facilitate unlocking.
“The orders and classification of the areas are more pragmatic. This fixes the responsibility on local administrations - district collectors or municipal corporations – to reduce the spread of the virus and augment infrastructure,” said an official requesting anonymity.
Instead of passing a blanket order for the entire state, the state government has divided the districts and cities into five categories to begin the process of unlocking under its ‘break the chain’ initiative.
The unlocking has been based on the test positivity rate and oxygen bed occupancy in areas by dividing them into 5 categories. Mumbai and most of the cities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) fall in the category or level -3 under which the opening up of the activities can begin from Monday.
The cities and districts with less than 5% positivity rate and less than 25% occupancy of the oxygen beds come under ‘level 1’, while the areas with less than 5% positivity and 25 to 30% oxygen bed occupancy are termed as ‘level-2’ areas. The ‘level-3’ areas the ones with a 5 to 10% positivity rate or more than 40% oxygen bed occupancy, while the areas with positivity between 10 and 20% or more than 60% oxygen bed occupancy have been put under ‘level 4’. The areas with more than 20% positivity rate and over 75% oxygen beds occupied have been put in the ‘level 5’ category.
The new order issued by relief and rehabilitation secretary Aseem Kumar Gupta late on Friday night, after the decision in the State Disaster Management Authority meeting on Thursday, comes into force from Monday, May 7.
The relaxations from the lockdown have been extended based on the levels or categories mentioned above. The level-1 areas have no restrictions, while level-5 will have the strictest curbs with only essential services and shops allowed to operate.
None of the state districts falls in level-5, while 9 districts are in level-1, with will no restriction at all.
Mumbai and most of its neighbouring cities like Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Navi Mumbai fall in the level-3 category with most activities allowed. Barring theatres, multiplexes, malls and auditoriums, all other activities for these level-3 areas have been allowed with restrictions.
Local trains have been opened up for women commuters, apart from the commuters in a few essential services and the medical sector. Essential shops will operate till 4 pm on all days, while non-essential shops and establishments can now operate till 4 pm on weekdays. Restaurants can operate till 4 pm on weekdays while public and private offices can work with 50% of their staff till 4 pm.
However, the local authorities can put restrictions on the operation of private offices. The level-3 areas, however, will continue to have a curfew after 5 pm every day. Salons, spas and beauty parlours have been allowed to operate with 50% of their capacity.
Social, cultural, entertainment events and political/election meetings have been allowed with 50% capacity of the venue in level-3 areas. The number of allowed attendees has been increased to 50 for wedding events in these areas, the notification stated.
Eleven municipal corporations with more than 1 million population - Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Nashik, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Aurangabad, Vasai-Virar, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Solapur and Kalyan-Dombivali - have been treated as a separate unit from their respective districts and will be judged on their positivity and bed occupancy rate to ascertain their category. This will enable cities like Vasai-Virar or Pune to have their upgraded level and get more relaxations comparing the districts they fall in.
Districts like Ahmednagar, Dhule, Gadchiroli, Jalgaon, Jalna, Latur, Nanded, Yvatmal are in level-1, while the districts like Palghar, Pune (rural), Raigad, Sangli, Satara, Sindhudurg, Beed are in level-4.
Level-1 areas would not carry any restrictions barring the inter-district travel from the areas with level-5 demarcation. In level-2 areas theatre, multiplexes, malls and restaurants can operate at 50% capacity, while social, cultural gatherings will be at the half of capacity of the venue. In level-4 areas, only essential shops will be allowed to be open till 4 pm for all days, while restaurants can operate takeaway services. Government and private offices will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity.
Elaborating on its idea of linking the unlocking with the consumption of oxygen, the notification stated, “The state’s daily production of medical oxygen is 1,200 metric tonnes which can cater to maximum 60,000 patients with the need of the O2. If the number of patients ranged between 35,000 and 45,000, no part shall be below level-3 and no part be below level 4 if it’s more than 50,000 patients. Currently, the oxygen bed occupancy is less than 35,000 patients and thus the oxygen trigger mentioned above does not get operated. In such a scenario, the local level authorities are empowered to decide the level of restrictions they fall under.”
Maharashtra has reported less than 20,000 daily cases over the past week, after reporting a daily caseload of more than 50,000 cases at the beginning of May. The state had 196,894 active cases as of Friday evening.