Updated: April 14, 2021 3:12:01 pm
SCRAMBLING TO contain the Covid surge, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Tuesday announced curfew-like restrictions on the movement of people in the state from 8 pm on April 14 to May 1, but stopped short of calling it a lockdown.
In a 38-minute address to the state, Thackeray announced stricter restrictions than those in place since April 6, exempting only essential services, and announced a Rs 5,476-crore relief package for those who will be affected across sectors and certain categories.
According to the order issued by the administration, prohibitory orders under Section 144 are to be imposed in the state from Wednesday night and will remain in force until May 1.
No person is allowed to be in a public place without a valid reason. And all establishments, public spaces, activities and services will remain closed, except for essential services that will remain open between 7 am and 8 pm on working days. Shooting for films, serials and advertisements will remain closed, and only 25 people will be allowed at marriages.
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However, public transport, including trains and bus services, and essential services like groceries, vegetable shops, fruit vendors, dairies, bakeries, confectioneries, all types of food outlets and public utilities, will be open.
For the manufacturing sector, industries that require considerable time to stop and restart operations can run at a maximum of 50 per cent capacity at any given point. These industries are expected to accommodate their labourers on campus or in an isolated facility from where movement can happen in an isolated bubble. Movement of staff outside the premises is not allowed, it said.
Thackeray urged people to “work from home” and refrain from moving out by observing a “Janata Curfew”. “These restrictions are not one-sided but have been imposed only and only with an intent to save lives,” said Thackeray.
The Chief Minister also announced a relief package of Rs 5,476 crore. He said the government will supply 3 kg of wheat and 2 kg of rice per person free of cost for one month to beneficiaries of the Food Security Scheme. A meal scheme, “Shiv Bhojan Thali”, will provide food free of cost to people for one month with a target of 2 lakh thalis in a month, said Thakeray.
Further, he said, Rs 1,500 each will be given to 5 lakh licensed hawkers and 12 lakh auto rickshaw drivers. For each tribal family, which is availing the benefits of the “khavati karj” (small loans for non-agricultural purposes) scheme, Rs 2,000 will be given for one month – this is expected to benefit 12 lakh tribal families.
Besides, 12 lakh registered construction workers will get Rs 1,500 each this month, he said. Funds have been allocated for various welfare schemes targeting 25 lakh domestic workers. About 35 lakh beneficiaries of pension schemes will get Rs 1,000 as assistance in advance for two months, the Chief Minister said.
Regarding the shortage of oxygen, Thackeray said he was seeking permission from the Centre to transport oxygen from other states through IAF to avoid delay. Efforts are on to ensure the required supply of remdesivir from drug manufacturers across the country, he said. Also, the “deadline for GST filing in March should be extended by another three months for small and medium enterprises”, he said.
In the lockdown guidelines, the state has left it to the district authorities to decide on the inclusion of domestic helpers, drivers, attendants and other categories under essential services. However, the government has restricted e-commerce to the supply of essential goods and services.
The state government has also asked local authorities to take a call on staggering the supply of essential services such as groceries, vegetable shops, fruit vendors, dairies, bakeries, and all food outlets, in terms of location and operation.
Reacting to the new curbs, Viren Shah, who heads the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association, said that traders and shopkeepers “are in a Catch-22 situation” and will be “locked down without any business in hand”.
“Traders in Maharashtra and Mumbai have got no subsidy for keeping their shops closed for the next 15 days. Section 144 is applied and…nakabandi has (been) put up everywhere…So traders are locked in indirectly,” he said.
Shah said shopkeepers had hoped that the Chief Minister would “do something or announce some package for shops in terms of relaxation in property tax or license fees or electricity bill taxes but nothing of that sort was announced”.
He estimated the loss of daily revenue of standalone shops alone in Mumbai at Rs 350 crore and across Maharashtra at Rs 1,300 crore due to the lockdown.
What’s allowed during Maharashtra curfew
*Services and activities falling in ‘essential category’ are exempted.
* E-commerce (only for the supply of essential goods and services).
* Public transport: Airplanes, trains, taxis (50% vehicle capacity), auto rickshaw (driver+2 passengers), public buses (full seating capacity/no standing passenger allowed)
*Petrol pumps, services designated by RBI as essential, financial institutions associated with SEBI and construction work to continue.
* Veterinary services, animal care shelters, pet food shops
* Groceries, vegetable shops, fruit vendors, dairies, bakeries
* Cold storage and warehouse services
* Diplomatic offices
* All public services by local authorities
* Marriages to be allowed with only 25 persons in presence. In case of funerals, only 20 persons are allowed.
* All construction activities are allowed at those sites where labourers are living on site. Movement to and fro from outside must be avoided, except for the purpose of material movement.
What’s not allowed during Maharashtra curfew
*Cinema halls, theatres, swimming pools, gyms and sports complexes to remain closed.
*All restaurants and bars to remain closed for in-dining. Only home delivery services shall be allowed and there shall be no visiting any restaurant or bar for ordering purposes or pickup.
*Shooting for film/serials/advertisements to be closed.
*Public places like beaches, gardens, open spaces, etc. shall remain closed.
*Religious places of worship to remain closes.
* All political activity to be stopped in state.
*Barber shops, spas, salons and beauty parlours to remain closed.
*All schools and colleges to remain closed.
*Students who have to attend any exam will be allowed to travel along with one adult, on basis of a valid hall ticket.
*All private coaching classes to remain closed.
* Any industrial process that is a net consumer of oxygen as a raw material is to be disallowed. Those processes, which come under essential activities or circumstances, could be exempted after written permission from Development Commissioner.
Here is the complete list of curbs imposed in Maharashtra
Maharashtra, which has the maximum number of active Covid-19 cases (5,93,042), has complained of vaccine shortage and has repeatedly requested the Centre to send a bigger batch of vaccines to the state. On Tuesday, the state registered 60,212 new cases and 281 deaths.
Prior to this announcement, the state had imposed a weekend lockdown and daily night curfews.
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