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Maharashtra imposes full lockdown from today

The Maharashtra government imposed a full lockdown, on the lines of the one that was in place last year, amid the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases.
By Surendra P Gangan, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON APR 22, 2021 01:20 AM IST

The Maharashtra government imposed a full lockdown, almost one on the lines of the one that was in place last year, amid the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases.

From reducing attendance in government and exempted-category offices to 15%, local train travel has been restricted to essential sector and stricter curbs have been imposed on interdistrict/city travel.

The order comes into effect from 8pm on Thursday.

This would mean, people can’t step out unless for medical reasons or to buy essential commodities (between 7am and 11am) or if they are working in essential sector. Majority of restrictions have already been announced on Tuesday.

A day after the state cabinet’s decision of imposing a full lockdown in the state, the state government issued an SOP late on Thursday.

To reduce the mobility between cities and districts, travelling in public buses has been reduced to 50% of their sitting capacity, while the travelling in local trains has been restricted only to the people working in government offices, medical sector and ones who are travelling for health purposes. The inter-district/city travel has been made strict by making 14 days quarantine and stamping their hands mandatory.

The public transport buses, including BEST in Mumbai, will ply for all, but at 50% of the sitting capacity. The passengers travelling inter-city/district in public transport buses will have to mandatorily undergo the quarantine period of 14 days, while a rapid antigen test on them at alighting point can be considered by local authorities, the order has said.

The decision of lockdown was taken by the state cabinet on Tuesday, amid the projection by the health department of active cases rising over 1.1 million cases by May 2. The department had expressed concerned that the health machinery will not be able to bear the burden as over 80% of it has already under use. The shortage of oxygen and anti-viral drug such as Remdesivir was another concern expressed, after which all the state cabinet ministers insisted for the complete lockdown.

The wedding ceremony, which is proved to be the 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 the flouting of the condition may attract the fine of Rs50,000 to the family and action against the operator by shutting down the facility till the end of the pandemic. “The offices from exempted category, including banks, mediclaim, insurance sector, too, will have to reduce the attendance to 15% from existing permission of 50%. However the 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 issued by chief secretary Sitaram Kunte said.

The private offices have already been directed to switch to work-from-home (WFH) mode. The private passenger vehicles, except buses, have been allowed only for essential and emergency services or for valid reasons at 50% of their sitting capacity.

The inter-district travel of such vehicles, too, has been restricted only for essential and emergency services. The private buses are allowed to ply intra and inter-city/district at 50% of their sitting capacity.

“The passengers travelling in such buses will have to go through a 14-day quarantine. A rapid antigen test at the alighting point can be considered by local authorities. The passengers will be stamped for ascertaining the quarantine period. Flouting of rules will attract a fine of Rs10,000,” the order has stated. State health minister Rajesh Tope said earlier in the day, which except public transport and essential commodities, everything else will be shut down. “Railways and bus services will not be shut down, under the new curbs expected to be announced soon. Though we are not calling it lockdown, it is a ‘break-the-chain’ initiative amid the rising Covid-19 cases in the state. We have been utilising 80-90% of our facilities in the health infrastructure, including beds, oxygen, manpower and it cannot bear more load. Against the backdrop of it, all the cabinet ministers insisted on complete lockdown. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray will announce it soon,” he said.

The minister said that although prime minister Narendra Modi has said that the lockdown should be the last resort, the state government has no other option, but to go for it amid pressure on the infrastructure. Tope said that there would not be complete ban on inter-district travel.

“The inter-district travel will be allowed only for essential and emergency services. Police administration will ensure at the borders that outsiders are not entering the district without a valid reason. The entry will be given with valid prior permission. We, however, do not want to impose complete ban on an inter-district travel,” said the minister.

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