With daily Covid-19 cases breaching the 50,000-mark in Maharashtra, the state government Sunday announced a slew of restrictions, including night curfews and weekend lockdowns, to control the spike.
The state, in the last 24 hours, recorded 57,074 fresh infections – its highest one-day rise since the pandemic began last year. Mumbai, too, reported its highest single-day spike of 11,163 new coronavirus cases. The state currently has 4,30,503 active cases and according to the Centre, eight of the top 10 worst-affected districts in India are from Maharashtra.
What are the new restrictions?
As indicated by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray earlier in the week, the Maharashtra government was left with no choice but to impose curbs so as to break the chain of transmission.
As part of the new rules, a night curfew would be in place across the state from 8 pm to 7 am and a weekend lockdown will be effective from 8 pm on Friday to 7 am on Monday. The restrictions, which come into effect tomorrow (April 5), also include a ban on gatherings of five or more people throughout the day.
Shopping malls, bars, restaurants and other eateries will be open only for take-aways and parcels. While government offices will be allowed to function with only 50 per cent staff, private ones have been asked to shift to the work-from-home model.
Religious places, gymnasiums, amusement parks, indoor sports complexes, parks, playgrounds, beaches, salons and beauty parlours will remain closed to avoid crowding during the day.
Although theatres and drama complexes have been asked to keep their gates closed, film and television shoots are permitted, provided they ensure social distancing norms are adhered to. Political rallies have also been banned.
E-commerce and industrial operations, construction activities and farming have been given a nod.
No new restrictions have been placed on flights and trains, but public transport will run at 50 per cent capacity and violators will be fined.
Also, societies with five or more Covid cases will be declared containment zones and violations will lead to fines of up to Rs 10,000.
The manufacturing sector, including oxygen-dependent industries, have been asked to reduce operations to divert oxygen towards hospitals.
“We want a complete lockdown on weekends so that everyone stays at home and the chain of transmission is broken. Our slogan is breaking the chain and stopping the infection from spreading further,” Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said.
Reactions to the new norms
While Opposition leaders welcomed the restrictions to check the rapid spread of the virus, people associated with various industries criticised the move.
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said the BJP supports the government’s decision to impose a lockdown and people should abide by the new restrictions. “To ensure maximum vaccination, BJP workers would help people register and reach vaccination centres,” he added.
Interaction with media at Nagpur on #Lockdown decisions by MVA Govt.
There’s a need to stop disconnecting power supply, immediate package announcement for farmers,labourers,poor,middle class &small traders,focus on healthcare facilities across Maharashtra.https://t.co/YUm2ZxO9Fb pic.twitter.com/YSLeDFrS9M
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) April 4, 2021
Maharashtra Navanirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray also pledged support and asked his party workers to adhere to the government’s guidelines. “Please cooperate with the government agencies and follow all the directives of the government,” the party said in a tweet in Marathi.
However, Shivanand Shetty, president of the hotels and restaurants association, while criticising the move, said, “Today is a black day for the industry as measures to fight the pandemic is turning out to be far more hard-hitting than the pandemic itself. With the new rules, the state government has hit the last nail in the coffin.” He added, “The industry, which employs thousands of people, will not be able to survive this time. We will not be able to pay salaries, licence fees and meet operational expenses with mere home deliveries and takeaways. We fail to understand why hotels and restaurants are being targeted when there is no evidence to prove that Covid is spreading from there.”