Reiterating the need for social distancing to stem the spread of coronavirus, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Tuesday warned that the government would have to take harsh steps and shut shops selling essential commodities if people continued to venture out for non-essential work and crowd markets.
In a meeting with municipal authorities and ward officials through video conference Monday evening, Thackeray said, “We have allowed shops selling essential commodities to operate 24 hours to avoid inconvenience to the people. But, if the people are roaming on the streets, taking advantage of it, then the government may take a harsh decision of closing them.”
Referring to overcrowding in some vegetable markets over the last few days since a nationwide lockdown was announced, Thackeray told civic officials to shift markets to open grounds if required. According to officials, the government may close shops selling essential commodities entirely or allow them to operate for fewer hours to reduce crowding in market areas. “Many people are still roaming on the city streets on the pretext of buying groceries or other materials. So, the government may take a decision to close down shops for few days to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” an official said.
The chief minister, meanwhile, has directed BMC to form flying squads — each comprising municipal officers and employees, police and revenue department officials and medical assistant — in all 227 municipal wards across Mumbai. The flying squads, he said, should start visiting each house from Tuesday and identify coronavirus patients, their contacts and check for symptoms like fever, cough, cold, pneumonia-like ailment and take further steps for their treatment.
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