States to resume buses, trains
Interstate bus services are to resume in Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu starting Tuesday, September 1, and metro services in Kochi and Bangalore beginning on September 7 as mass transport systems in the states and cities resume after the five-month lockdown for Covid-19 pandemic. Maharashtra is contemplating allowing inter-state buses to ply from September 7, officials in the state said.
This comes a day after the Union home ministry allowed states to resume metro services and hotels and bars to reopen from September 7 as part of Unlock 4.
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, meanwhile, announced extension of lockdown till September 30. “Under relaxed norms, no complete lockdown will be enforced on Sundays in September. E-pass system for inter-district travel will be discontinued. All places of worship, hotels and resorts have been allowed to re-open,” he said. Buses run by state owned enterprise will run with 50% capacity with the government deciding to bear the loss.
Bihar, which is likely to hold assembly polls in November-December, however, is likely to announce significant relaxations after September 6, when the state-wide lockdown ends. The Centre has prohibited lockdowns outside containment zones without its permission as part of the Unlock 4 guidelines.
The Bihar government may come up with guidelines related to social gatherings, public meetings and political functions in view of the elections. In the state-wide lockdown, enforced since August 1, only shops selling essential goods remained open. “Till September 6, the state-wide lockdown is in force. The government will review the situation and likely issue new orders,” said additional chief secretary, home, Amir Subhani.
As social distancing norms are being enforced, bus travel in Jharkhand would become costlier from September 1 as the state has allowed only 50% seating capacity to be occupied.
Kerala government officials said Kochi Metro will start functioning from September 7 in a staggered manner.
Maharashtra government officials said more relaxations would be offered under its ‘Mission Begin Again’ in a calibrated manner including opening up of inter-state bus travel. The state is likely to allow gymnasiums to open and government and private establishments to increase employee strength to between 30% and 50% from the present 10-15%, the officials said.
“Going by the surge in cases, we are not in a position to open what all has been allowed by the Centre,” said an official. He said the government is unlikely to open religious places despite demands by the opposition. The relaxations are likely to be notified on Monday.Officials in the West Bengal said that new Unlock guidelines may not be announced as chief minister Mamata Banerjee has declared a complete state-wide lockdown on September 7, 11 and 12.