The Maharashtra government may soon allow malls, multiplexes, restaurants and gymnasiums to reopen and operate at 50 per cent capacity while shops and other establishments may get extended hours of operations, beyond 4 pm, in 25 districts with low Covid-19 positivity rates. Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that a formal order on easing the restrictions will be issued in the next few days.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with the state Covid task force and senior health department officials to discuss the easing of restrictions a day after several ministers demanded relaxations in the state cabinet meeting.
Tope, while speaking to the media, said that the proposal of the health department and the recommendations of the Covid Task Force were discussed during the meeting. “It has been decided that the restrictions will be relaxed in the 25 districts that have positivity and growth rate lower than the state’s average. There was a positive discussion on providing relaxations on the curbs in these districts and the CM will decide (on the matter) in a day or two,” said Tope.
The state government will also take a call on whether weddings along with other social and cultural events can have around 100 people, instead of the current limit of 50, the health minister said. Use of air-conditioning, though, would be discouraged on closed premises, he added.
Of the 36 districts in the state, 11 districts with high positivity rate, including Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Pune, Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Solapur, Beed and Ahmednagar, will not get the relaxations.
Tope further said that the proposed relaxations include allowing the shops to remain open beyond 4 pm and even on Saturdays till 4 pm. According to the existing restrictions, the shops are allowed to open only till 4 pm and are shut on weekends.
On the resumption of local train services for general population, Tope said the government would hold a discussion with Railway authorities before taking a final decision in the regard. “There were different views on allowing people to travel through the local trains. While one view was that it should not be allowed as a third wave is coming, another view was that there is overcrowding in buses as trains are shut. So, our objective to ensure that transmission does not increase is being defeated. To allow those who have taken two doses [of vaccine], we will need a mechanism to check the certificate, and if at all it can be checked. These challenges will be discussed with Railway authorities and a decision will be made by the CM,” Tope said.
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