No lockdown, Section 144 across Maharashtra from tomorrow: Uddhav Thackeray announces
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday announced a 15-day statewide curfew from Wednesday, April 14, to stop the surging cases of the coronavirus disease in the state as he refrained from calling the new curbs a lockdown. Uddhav Thackeray said in his address to people of the state that the curfew, which excludes essential services, will come into effect from 8pm on Wednesday. “We are imposing strict restrictions… Section 144 to be imposed in the entire state from tomorrow. I will not term this as lockdown,” Uddhav Thackeray said. “People have to decide whether they want to help corona or the government that is working to curb it…” he added during his address to the state, which battling a massive surge in the cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Maharashtra on Tuesday recorded 60,212 fresh cases of the coronavirus disease, CM Thackeray announced during his address and said he will seek Prime Minister Narendra Modi's help in sourcing oxygen through the Indian Air Force. “I am writing to PM to allow air force to supply oxygen," Thackeray said.
Thackeray said the state has resumed the fight against the coronavirus pandemic amid the surging infections and pointed out the fresh cases in the state were the highest so far. "There was some control over Covid-19 in November and December last year. We had managed to keep cases in check till January and February. We have resumed our fight against the virus as numbers have surged. Today's numbers are the highest till date at 60,212,” Uddhav Thackeray said. “The Covid situation in the state has become dreadful… The increase in cases has now burdened the health infrastructure,” he added.
“In the last few days, I have interacted with people from all walks of lives to get a consensus. But now discussions will not help,” Thackeray said in his address. The chief minister was referring to the all-party meeting last week on Friday during which he indicated that a lockdown could be imposed in the state to curb the surging Covid-19 cases. On Sunday, he met members of the state Covid-19 task force and said a standard operating procedure (SOP) will be prepared after holding consultations with stakeholders.
Services and activities under the essential category will be exempted and public transport, including buses and local trains, will not be suspended during the restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Maharashtra, he said. According to the guidelines, no one will be allowed to be in a public place without any valid reason. All establishments, public place activities and services will remain closed.
Thackeray said his government will spend ₹5400 crore to support the people of the state as he announced the 15-day long statewide curfew. Food will also be distributed for one month under the government's flagship economy meal scheme, Shiv Bhojan Thali. “Shiv Bhojan thalis will be given free for the next one month,” Thackeray said during his address.
Thackeray said the government will distribute 3 kilograms of wheat and 2 kilograms of rice for a month to 70 million people. The chief minister also announced a cash transfer scheme for 120 million registered construction workers, who he said will be given ₹1500. Thackeray also asked for an extension on the deadline for filing Goods and Service Tax (GST) returns of small and medium enterprises by three months.
Maharashtra reported 51,751 Covid-19 cases on Monday, a drop after the highest single-day infections of 63,294 on Sunday due to a fewer number of tests conducted over the weekend. The death toll in the state is 58,245 as of Monday.
The Maharashtra government has already imposed lockdowns in some cities, clamped night and weekend curfews to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease. On Monday, it postponed the state board exams of Class 10 and Class 12, which were scheduled to be held later this month.