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Friday, April 16, 2021

Covid surge: Weekend lockdown in Maharashtra, new curbs through April

The new rules include a ban on gatherings of five or more throughout the day and malls, restaurants and bars will be open only for take-aways and parcels.

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai |
Updated: April 5, 2021 3:10:31 am
Maharashtra: Service sector demands rollback of curbs, fears ‘irreversible damage’The Chembur Station Road remained deserted on Sunday night. The Maharashtra government has imposed night curfew and weekend lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19. (Express Photo: Pradip Das)

With Maharashtra recording its highest single-day jump in Covid cases of 57,704 on Sunday, the state announced fresh restrictions to last through April, including a total lockdown on weekends.

The restrictions announced by the Chief Minister’s Office will include daytime prohibitory orders on assembly of more than five people and daily night curfews from 8 pm to 7 am. Named ‘Break the Chain’, the curbs are to come into force from 8 pm on Monday and remain in force until April 30. The weekend lockdown will begin 8 pm Fridays and continue until 7 am Mondays. Section 144 will be imposed prohibiting the assembly of more than five people from 7 am to 8 pm.

All types of shops, malls and markets, except those selling groceries, medicines and vegetables, will remain closed until April 30. This means closure of all cinemas, multiplexes, theatres, video parlours, clubs, swimming pools, sports complexes, auditoriums, water parks, salons, beauty parlours and spas.

Restaurants and bars will be completely closed, except if a restaurant is part of a hotel, when it can be opened for the guests staying at the hotel. Takeaway or parcel service will be available only from 7 am to 8 pm.

Shopkeepers and staff of essential goods and services have been told to get vaccination as soon as possible and to ensure that their customers follow Covid norms.

Mumbai reported 11,206 cases on Sunday, according to numbers released by the state’s health department. There were 222 fatalities over the last 24 hours.

Migrant labourers gather at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus on Sunday to return home as the Maharashtra government has announced strict restrictions, including weekend lockdown. (Express Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

During the daily night curfew, no person can step outside without a valid reason. Public places like gardens and beaches will also be closed. However, medical and essential services have been excluded from this, the CMO statement said, following a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The announcement followed two days of discussions held by the government with stakeholders including opposition leaders, industry leaders, gym owners and the film industry over the restrictions and lockdown.

If more than five people are found positive in a society, the building is to be declared a mini containment zone. Signs will be put up declaring it a containment zone and outsiders will not be allowed, the note said.

Private offices have been asked to tell all employees to work from home. Banks, stock markets, insurance, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, as well as local disaster management, electricity and water supply offices will remain open. Government offices will function at 50% capacity, visitors will not be allowed, with entries restricted to those who have a pass issued by the head of the department. Office meetings are to be conducted online.

While all types of public and private transport will operate as usual, rickshaws can’t have more than the driver and two passengers, and taxis would have to operate on 50% capacity. Public and private buses can carry passengers to full capacity but no standing passengers will be allowed. Drivers and other staff will need either vaccination proof or carry a Covid-negative certificate.

In long-distance trains too, the railway administration is expected to ensure that there are no standing passengers.

Services of e-commerce platforms will also continue from 7 am to 8 pm, with home delivery staff to be vaccinated. Otherwise, a fine of Rs 1,000 will be imposed per person and Rs 10,000 per shop or organisation for violation, the statement said.

Except for holding Class 10 and 12 exams, schools and colleges will remain closed and all private classes will be shut. Religious places and places of worship will remain shut for devotees but priests and staff can perform daily rituals.

While industries and manufacturing sector can continue functioning, the management would have to take care of all norms. Shooting of the films and TV serials too can continue but without crowding. RT-PCR test has been made mandatory for all staff and people at shooting sites from April 10.

Newspaper printing and distribution will continue as usual but vendors have been asked to get vaccinated.

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