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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Explained: What are Maharashtra’s new Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions?

Anyone wishing to move across district borders in the state, or from one city to another within Maharashtra, can do so by long-distance trains and state-run buses which will continue to operate. It is not necessary to have an emergency reason to travel by these modes of transport.

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai |
Updated: May 6, 2021 9:01:45 am
Marine drive wears a deserted look during lockdown, imposed to curb the surge in coronavirus cases in Mumbai. (PTI Photo/Shashank Parade)

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday further tightened Covid-19 restrictions, with public and private transport now allowed only for essential services and emergencies and 14-day mandatory home quarantine for people travelling inter-district. The new restrictions will come into effect from 8pm on Thursday and will remain in force until 7am on May 1.

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Who is allowed to use public transport?

Mumbai local trains, metro and monorail will be accessible only to government employees (state, centre and local authorities) and medical personnel such as doctors, paramedics, lab technicians and medical clinic staff. Tickets or passes will be issued to them based on identity cards issued by the government and medical organisations concerned, respectively.

This means that common people can no longer use local trains, metro and monorail transport services. An exception has been made for people needing medical treatment, or specially abled persons with one attendant.

People working at shops, homes or in private offices cannot use those services to get to their places of work.

However, members of the public can use state government or local government-owned public buses. There are no restrictions on who can travel in public transport buses, except that they will operate at only 50 per cent of their standing capacity. They cannot have standing passengers.

What about inter-district and inter-city travel?

Anyone wishing to move across district borders in the state, or from one city to another within Maharashtra, can do so by long-distance trains and state-run buses which will continue to operate. It is not necessary to have an emergency reason to travel by these modes of transport.

The order said the local railway officers / Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) officers shall provide all information to the local disaster management authority, which screens passengers at the alighting point.

There, they will need to undergo 14 days home quarantine. Their hands will be stamped. If anyone shows symptoms during thermal screening, they will be removed to a corona care centre or hospital depending on the severity of their symptoms.

What about private transport?

Private passenger transport such as taxis and autorickshaws are permitted to run only for emergency or essential services or valid reasons with the driver plus 50 per cent of the seating capacity.

“These are not expected to be inter-district or inter-city and should be confined to the city of residence of the travellers. Inter-district or inter-city travel by private transport is allowed only if required for performing an essential service or in case of medical emergencies or attending unavoidable events like funerals or severe sickness of family,” stated the order.

The order further said that the private buses can ply with 50 per cent of the seating capacity with no standing passengers and the people allowed to use it for any reason for inter-district travel in the state. The passengers shall be stamped on hand for 14-day home quarantine by the bus operator, it added.

The state has further said that bus service operators must restrict the stoppages to a maximum of two in a city and shall inform the local authority about the schedule. Thermal scanners shall be used and anyone with symptoms shall be moved to corona care centre or to a hospital.

The official said that private vehicles are allowed to be used for city and inter-district travel only for essential services and for medical emergencies or attending unavoidable events like funerals or severe sickness of family.

“But, they need to satisfy the police on it as the police will be stopping all the private vehicles and will be inquiring about the reasons for their travel,” added the official.

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What are the other new restrictions?

It said that all government offices such as central, state and local authority can operate only with 15 per cent attendance except for emergency services directly connected to the management of covid pandemic. In the case of Mantralaya, the state secretariat, and central government office in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, the head of the department can decide on higher attendance after seeking permission from the CEO of the Maharashtra State Disaster Management Authority.

For all other offices of essential services, they should work with at lowest required capacity and in no case exceed 50 per cent.

For the offices such as PSU and private banks, offices of companies providing essential services, insurance/mediclaim companies, pharmaceutical company offices, RBI regulated entities and intermediaries with others should function only with 15 per cent of the total attendance or 5 people whichever is more, it added.

For marriage ceremonies, the government has said that it may be conducted only as a single event in a single hall not extending beyond 2 hours with a maximum of total 25 persons attending the same. “With restrictions of 25 people, there were instances of people being invited in different batches throughout the day. So we have restricted it to 2 hours and with a total of 25 people attendance for it,” said an official.

What are the powers given to the local authorities?

The state has said that the local authority can waive off the rules regarding mandatory stamping for buses arriving from certain origins as per the local conditions.

For inter-district travel by long-distance trains, state-owned buses and private buses, the government has asked the local authority to decide on the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) test of the passengers at the alighting point by appointing authorised labs. The cost of the test will be borne by the passenger. “We want to promote the RAT test, which is 50 per cent accurate but all the districts do not have the capacity to do it. So, they can take a call depending on the local situation,” said the official.

What about shopping?

Groceries are allowed to open for four hours only in the morning, from 7 am to 11 am. Home deliveries from grocery shops and restaurants are allowed until 8 pm. Chemists shops are open until 8 pm. No other shops are allowed to remain open. Malls are shut. If any essential shops are located in malls, only those can open for the permitted four hours in the morning.

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