Maharashtra: 15-day partial lockdown from today as Covid-19 cases rise
- Unlike last year’s hard lockdown, the next 15 days will see many establishments remaining open and many activities continuing.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday announced a partial lockdown across the state for 15 days starting 8 pm on Wednesday that included an order under Section 144 restricting movement of people — a desperate attempt to slow the surge of the raging second wave of the coronavirus disease. On Tuesday, Maharashtra recorded 60,212 cases, 32% of India’s total of 185,287. It also saw 281 deaths.
Thackeray, in an address on Tuesday evening, also announced a package of Rs.5,476 crore to help the marginalised, including daily wagers, rickshaw drivers, domestic helps, and construction workers. With the imposition of Section 144, people will not be able to travel far from home for non-essential activities. However, essential services have been exempted from the restrictions between 7 am and 8 pm.
Thackeray avoided using the term lockdown, instead terming the measures a janta curfew, borrowing the term from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who used it to describe a day-long lockdown on March 22, two days before India went into a 68-day long lockdown.
The impact of that lockdown — a 24.4% contraction in the economy in the first quarter which bore the brunt, and untold suffering for migrant workers left without food, shelter, and a safe way to return home — may have prevented Thackeray from announcing even a partial lockdown in the face of a second wave that has overwhelmed Maharashtra’s health infrastructure, even though experts have been calling for stronger restrictions for weeks.
Thackeray admitted that rising cases have overloaded the state’s health infrastructure.
He added, “We had two laboratories, now it has gone to 523 but the load on them has increased. We used to test around 85,000 samples, now it has gone to 250,000 [daily]. The last time we had 2,665 Covid Care Centres, which has been increased to nearly 4000. All types of hospital beds, including isolation, oxygenated, ICU, etc, have increased from 325,000 to 350,000. But now these facilities are overloaded.”
The CM said that the health infrastructure is being further enhanced.
Unlike last year’s hard lockdown, the next 15 days will see many establishments remaining open and many activities continuing. For instance, all public transport will continue to ply, and pre-monsoon work (important, especially in Mumbai ) will continue. And, much like the first lockdown, vegetable and grocery shops will remain open.
However, shopping centres, beaches and malls will be shut. Home delivery and take away will be allowed. Theatres, auditoriums, amusement parks, water parks, gymnasiums, swimming pools, clubs, and places of worship will also remain closed, as will, barber shops, spas, beauty parlours and salons. Shopkeepers and others in essential services will be fined if they do not follow Covid rules.
Public transport, too, will operate with some restrictions. Autos will be allowed to have two passengers only excluding the driver, taxis will be allowed to operate with 50% of vehicle capacity, while public buses will not be allowed to ferry any standees. E-commerce will be allowed for the delivery of essential goods and services. Milk and newspapers will be allowed to be delivered at home.