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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Mumbai at Level 3, partial reopening, local trains still off limits for most

As per the parameters of Covid-19 positivity rate and occupancy of oxygen beds set by the Maharashtra government to determine the five levels of restrictions to be imposed across state, Mumbai is in Level 3 of unlockdown.

Written by Laxman Singh | Mumbai |
June 6, 2021 2:09:16 am
Commuters make a long B-line to commute in buses to work at Maharashtra Nagar Bus stop in Mankhurd area; as a part of restrictions general public still not allowed to commute by Mumbai local railways resulting in long wait to board the bus. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

Restaurants, shops selling non-essential products, gyms and salons in Mumbai are set to reopen from Monday, as are public spaces under the new ‘Break the Chain’ unlock guidelines issued by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Saturday, though with time restrictions and curtailment of movement after 5 pm.

As per the parameters of Covid-19 positivity rate and occupancy of oxygen beds set by the Maharashtra government to determine the five levels of restrictions to be imposed across state, Mumbai is in Level 3 of unlockdown.

This means the city’s positivity rate is between 5 to 10 per cent or more than 40 per cent of its oxygen beds are occupied, making it unsafe for free movement and a full unlock. Till June 3, Mumbai’s had recorded a positivity rate of 5.56 per cent while oxygen bed occupancy is at 32 per cent.

Of the 13,659 new cases reported in Maharashtra on Saturday, Mumbai recorded 866, with 29 deaths in the last 24 hours. While the doubling rate of cases is 511 days, the overall recovery rate of patients in 95 per cent. As of now, 6,77,445 patients have recovered and there are 16,133 active cases.

Though women have been permitted to ride in local trains in the overall guidelines issued by the government late Friday, the state had left it to the local disaster management authority to take a final call.

On Saturday, BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal issued an order clarifying that local trains will run only for men and women who are involved in providing in essential services.

According to the order, while shops selling essential products will be allowed to remain open till 4 pm all on days, those selling non-essential items will stay open until 4 pm on weekdays. For restaurants, dine-in is permitted at 50 per cent seating capacity until 4 pm on weekdays and thereafter, only parcel, takeaway and home delivery will be allowed. On Saturday and Sunday, non-essential shops and restaurants will remain shut.

Similarly, gyms, salons and beauty parlours can operate with 50 per cent capacity, allowing customers by prior appointment. Malls, theatres and multiplexes, which have been allowed to operate in level 1 and 2 categories, will remain shut in Mumbai.

Public places and parks will stay open from 5 am to 9 am. While government offices can operate at 50 per cent capacity, private offices can be open on working days till 4 pm at 50 per cent capacity.

Though movement of people after 5 pm has been curtailed, outdoor sports have been allowed from 5 am to 9 am and 6 pm to 9 pm. Also, while 50 people can attend a wedding, 20 people can be part of a funeral. Further, society meetings and election rallies can have held with 50 per cent attendance.

Welcoming the order, shopkeepers requested the government to allow local trains for all as most of their staffers stayed outside Mumbai. “We are thankful on behalf of shopkeepers of Maharashtra for the unlockdown in various stages,” said Viren Shah, president of Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association.

“Maharashtra government should open local train services for Mumbaikars… At least authorities should allow those who have taken the first dose of vaccine. Many workers stay far away and local trains will help them reach their work place in time,” he added.

Also welcoming the government decision, hoteliers urged a return to full operating hours as 75 to 80 per cent of their business takes place in the evening. There are also fears that only 20 per cent of the restaurants would be able to reopen on Monday, as operating only till 4 pm is not viable.

“For restaurants, the time restriction for dine-in till 4 pm is not favourable. We hope that restaurants are soon allowed to operate normally. Since there is a restriction on the number of guests, we recommend that restaurants with open spaces and terraces be allowed to utilise the space,” said Pradeep Shetty, senior vice-president of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India.

“This will compensate restaurants for the loss and also ensure that social distancing is maintained.”

Meanwhile, Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the state Covid-19 task force, said that making occupancy of oxygen beds as one of the parameters for unlocking is more a policy and administrative decision.

“Ideally, it should not become an indicator for unlocking. Three parameters have been defined by the Union government – positivity rate of two weeks, vaccinating 70 per cent of the population and strict adherence to Covid-19 norms, “said Joshi.

He added, “We need to follow a zero crowd policy and always double mask,” he added while cautioning that unlocking should take place gradually.

Another member of the task force, Dr Rahul Pandit, welcomed the government’s strategy. “This is one of the strategies that can be used. There are always other strategies as well. If there is a plan, it should be workable,” he said.

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