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Maharashtra government tightens unlock rules

On June 4, the government had announced a five-level unlock plan based on positivity rate and occupancy of oxygen beds – with Level-1 having the most relaxations, and Level-5 the most restrictions.

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai |
Updated: June 26, 2021 10:08:38 am
Maharashtra government tightens unlock rulesThe government also asked district authorities to push vaccination through public awareness activities, setting a target of 70 per cent vaccination of the eligible population at the earliest.

WITH MAHARASHTRA reporting at least 20 cases of Delta plus variant of the coronavirus, including a death in Ratnagiri, the state government announced stricter unlocking rules on Friday.

On June 4, the government had announced a five-level unlock plan based on positivity rate and occupancy of oxygen beds – with Level-1 having the most relaxations, and Level-5 the most restrictions.

But according to the new order, the first two levels, which allowed shops to remain open till night, have been scrapped. All districts will have to implement at least Level-3 or above restrictions. The new rules will come into effect from Monday.

“Even if the bed occupancy and positivity rate is within the limits, we don’t want to take a chance due to the Delta plus variant which is more transmissible. So now, Level-3 and above restrictions will be applicable in all districts till the situation improves,” said Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, who issued the new order.

Till June 20, Level-1 restrictions were in place in 15 districts and two muncipal corporations, and Level-2 in four districts and four municipal corporations.

Sources said the new guidelines have been issued following the Centre’s advisory on the Delta plus variant and the state task force’s recommendations.

According to Level-3 restrictions, essential shops and establishments can remain open till 4 pm on all days, while non-essential units can operate till 4 pm on weekdays only. Restaurants can operate at 50 per cent dining capacity till 4 pm and thereafter be open for deliveries only. Local trains will operate only for people in medical/ essential services. Private offices can remain open till 4 pm; attendance in private and government offices will be restricted to 50 per cent.

Public places and parks can remain open from 5 am to 9 pm; sports activities will be allowed from 5 am to 9 am and 6 pm to 9 pm.

The District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs) have been given the power to impose a higher level of restrictions. “DDMA shall not require prior permission of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) for going for a higher level of restrictions or putting extra restrictions,” said the order. Earlier, DDMAs could only carry out “minor modifications”, with the SDMA’s concurrence.

The government also said that only RT-PCR tests would be taken into account to determine the weekly positivity rate. “It was found that in some districts, positivity rate was very low with rapid antigen tests, while it was much higher with RT-PCR tests…” said an official.

The government also asked district authorities to push vaccination through public awareness activities, setting a target of 70 per cent vaccination of the eligible population at the earliest.

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