Night curfew timings in Pune district have been revised to 6 pm-6 am from the earlier 8 pm-7 am. The decision was taken after a Covid-19 review meeting chaired by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Moreover, it has been decided to shut restaurants, bars, malls and religious places for seven days. Restaurants will, however, be allowed to provide food parcel and delivery services until 10 pm, Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said.
The order will be implemented from Saturday (April 3) and will be reviewed next Friday. A state-wide night-curfew is in force from 8 pm to 7 am along with other stringent measures.
“We have collectively decided to take some measures keeping in mind the goal of causing minimal hassle to citizens, but those that will help us slow down the spread of the virus. A golden mean was settled upon,” Rao said after the meeting.
PMPML bus service will only be available for essential workers. Industries and other organisations that need staff to travel can hire buses from PMPML.
Rao added that no social, cultural or political event will be allowed to take place for the next seven days, except marriages and last rites. “For last rites, a maximum of 20 persons will be allowed and for marriages the limit will be 50,” Rao said.
He added that the administration had started an aggressive vaccination campaign, and it will continue to increase the daily vaccinations until, in a few days, it clocks 1 lakh daily vaccinations.
“Vaccination is the most important aspect of Covid management at present. The vaccination speed of Pune is highest in the state and the country. Yesterday (Thursday), we vaccinated over 57,000 individuals. We will speed up the vaccination drive in future as well. In the next two days, the daily count will go up to 80,000 and in a few days, we will clock 1 lakh vaccination a day. This largely depends on supply of vaccination to the district,” he said.
He said that although the first jab of vaccine doesn’t ensure complete immunity, it provides considerable protection to beneficiaries and, in case they get infected, the severity of symptoms is much lower.
On Wednesday, the city recorded the highest-ever new Covid-19 infections — 8,593. At the last Covid-19 review meeting held on March 26, Pawar had warned that if the situation did not improve, the government would be forced to impose a “strict lockdown”.
At the meeting, almost all elected representatives including Members of Parliament Girish Bapat, Shrirang Barne, Vandana Chavan, Amol Kolhe and Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol opposed the idea of imposing a complete lockdown, and instead proposed stringent curbs be imposed and effectively implemented by the police. Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao and PMC Commissioner Vikram Kumar said additional curbs at public places, markets and public transport were important to reduce the number of cases and consequently ensure those who are severely infected get a hospital bed.
PMC Commissioner Vikram Kumar said at the rate Covid-19 cases were spreading in the city, the daily detections might soon touch 9,000 if stringent measures were not imposed.
Rao pointed out that with Covid-19 cases growing in neighbouring districts such as Satara, Sangli and Solapur, Pune district was seeing a shortage of oxygen supply and hence the administration has taken steps to meet the shortfall.
He said the administration has activated the ‘Jumbo COVID Hospitals’, but the increased flow of patients from neighbouring districts may soon cause a shortage of beds.
Deputy CM Pawar said though he was against imposing a lockdown, the situation was getting very serious and in a few days finding a hospital bed would become close to impossible.
“With the current speed of spread, we won’t have enough beds even if we take on board 100 per cent private hospital beds for Covid-19… After a point, people won’t get a bed even if they call Ajit Pawar for help. Everyone here is asking for stringent measures but no lockdown. What does that mean?” he asked.
Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol suggested additional restrictions could be imposed on public transport but the facility should not be closed completely as it would cause hardships to common citizens. He said instead of imposing a lockdown which will cause loss of livelihood for poor families, the government should focus on increasing the medical infrastructure and speeding up the vaccination drive.
Chavan suggested some hospitals be reserved as ‘non-Covid-19′ facilities so those suffering from other ailments do not stay at home for fear of being infected with Covid-19, or be turned away due to non-availability of beds.