Concerned over a spike in Covid-19 cases, Maharashtra government on Monday deferred further reopening of the state economy while extending the lockdown in the state till July 31. Norms governing movement of public for shopping, outdoor physical exercise and non-essential travel have been issued to ensure fewer people step out of home.
According to the latest guidelines issued on Monday, shopping, outdoor exercise and movement for all other non-essential activities has to be limited to neighbourhood areas. No such curbs were announced when such activities were first permitted from June 5 as part of the ‘Mission Begin Again’ initiative.
“Maharashtra is threatened with the spread of Covid-19 virus and therefore to take certain emergency measures to prevent and contain the spread of the virus, it is expedient to extend the lockdown in the entire state till July 31, 2020,” said the notification, signed by Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta, for the revised guidelines issued on Monday.
“Movement of persons for non-essential activities like shopping and outdoor exercises shall be restricted within the neighbourhood limit, with all the necessary prescribed mandatory precautions of wearing masks, social distancing and personal hygiene. Unrestricted movement will be permitted only for attending places of work that are allowed to remain open and bonafide humanitarian requirements including medical reason,” it added.
Non-essential markets, market areas and shops can stay open only until 5 pm in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and other hotspots. Malls and market complexes will remain shut.
A proposal to increase staff in private offices from 10 per cent to 25 per cent has been deferred. So has the unlocking of export-oriented industrial units and also those located in areas inside the special economic zones and industrial estates within the municipal corporation areas of MMR.
“Further easing under Mission Begin Again will be notified in due course,” stated the order. However, it clarified that all economic activities permitted previously will continue to be allowed.
The order mentioned that “staggering of work/business hours will be followed in offices, workplaces, shops, markets, industrial and commercial establishments”.
Last week, in an interview to The Indian Express, Mehta had said that the only way to manage a city like Mumbai in a post Covid-19 situation was by getting offices and shops in Mumbai to stagger work hours, summon employees in shifts and encourage work from home. While SOPs are being formulated in this regard, sources said that containing the spread of the new cases is the government’s top priority.
Since June 5, when the first phase of the Unlock began, a spike of 92,090 infections has been reported across the state, with Mumbai’s satellite cities and a few other tier-2 cities accounting for bulk of the increased case load. A central team had on Sunday flagged the surge in cases in Thane, Solapur and Aurangabad districts in particular, recommending tightening of norms.
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