Week into ‘Mission Begin Again’, Maharashtra reviews relaxation of curbs
A week into “Mission Begin Again”, crowds in open spaces and non-adherence to social distancing norms have prompted the Maharashtra government to review the relaxation of Covid-19-related restrictions across the state.
However, transport experts said the lack of adherence to social distancing measures at bus stops and within buses was expected.
With its Mission Begin Again notification on May 31, the state had allowed people to access nearby gardens and neighbourhoods, allowed inter-district movement in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, and private vehicles and BEST buses were allowed back on the roads.
However, the government has noted reports of overcrowding in many areas on Monday. The relaxations were allowed in three phases, starting June 3.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray tweeted on Wednesday, “If the relaxations to the lockdown starts turning out to be risky, we will be compelled to re-impose the lockdown.”
He further said, “The people of Maharashtra have been cooperating with the Government & following instructions. They have faith that the Government is acting in their best interest. I am requesting all to please avoid crowding.”
AV Shenoy from Mumbai Mobility Forum said, “This was expected as people were locked inside their houses for 70 days. In such situations, we cannot expect only citizens to show restraint. There must be some police force on roads too to check if the measures are followed correctly.”
On Wednesday, Thackeray reiterated his demand to resume local train services in the city for essential workers. A state official said this might ease the pressure on BEST buses.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “The essential services staff travel from a lot of far-flung areas. They cannot afford to spend four hours on the road every day. If trains start, with stringent measures to only allow essential staff, it will ease the pressure on roads too.”
However, senior officials from the railways have said there is still no communication from the Union ministry on resumption of local train services.
“The government must put security infrastructure in place before restarting trains and it must only be for essential workers,” Shenoy said.
On Wednesday, Maharashtra recorded its highest single-day jump in Covid-19 cases, with 3,254 fresh infections. The total number of cases in Maharashtra stands at 94,041.
Maharashtra also reported a record 149 new fatalities, of which 66 occurred in the past two days. The remaining 83 were recorded between April 18 and June 6. The state’s total death toll stands at 3,438.
Mumbai city recorded 1,567 new infections and 97 deaths, its highest for a day.