Full lockdown unlikely in Maharashtra yet, tight restrictions first
Amid rising Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, the state government is likely to release a standard operating procedure (SOP) by April 1 specifying more curbs on public movement, without implementing a full lockdown yet.
The state has recorded close to six lakh cases this month and registered over 2,100 deaths. Over the last two weeks, Maharashtra has recorded a 32.21 per cent rise in Covid cases. On Monday, the state saw 31,643 new cases and 102 deaths, taking the active case load to 3.36 lakh. Mumbai recorded 5,890 new cases on Monday, Pune 4,972 and Nagpur 3,243 cases.
State officials said that for now, local trains will continue to run and economic activities will have minimal impact, but restaurants, malls, public places, private offices and pubs are set to witness strict protocols to reduce overcrowding. Officials said offices will be asked to ensure less than 50 per cent attendance.
On Sunday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, while directing the Relief and Rehabilitation department to formulate an SOP for a possible lockdown, had expressed concerns over economic losses if another lockdown is implemented. A second meeting is slated for Tuesday.
Aseem Gupta, secretary, Relief and Rehabilitation department, said they plan to announce some measures to reduce movement for a few days. “If the desired outcome of reduction in cases is not seen, we will go to the next level and implement harsher measures,” he said, adding, “We don’t want to create a situation where migrant labourers panic and return home. The hardships that happened last year will not be repeated. But people who violate norms will be punished and there will be strict implementation of existing norms.”
Gupta added that they expect cases in Maharashtra to peak by mid-April and then follow a gentle declining trajectory. “Till then, people can expect restrictions in some form for a few days,” he said, adding lockdown will be implemented if all these measures fail.
Vinita Singhal, secretary, labour department, said construction, factories and essential services will continue to function as usual. “But travelling in buses and trains will be staggered to minimise contact. Private offices will be expected to work with minimal staff and stagger work timings,” she said.
Singhal added that at this point, migrant labourers do not need to worry about returning home. “A full lockdown is under contemplation and not finalised yet. We want to educate people and see if that works,” she added.
In the meeting the CM held on Sunday with district officials, Health Minister Rajesh Tope and Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, the health department had advocated for a lockdown to control the surge in new cases. ReadMore
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