Starting Wednesday (April 14), Maharashtra, which is reeling under a severe COVID wave, will witness lockdown-like restrictions from 8 pm onwards. The restrictions will remain in force till 7 am of May 1.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who announced the restrictions on Tuesday through 38-minute address to the state on social media, however, refrained from terming it as a lockdown. The chief minister also announced a ₹5,476 crore relief package for those who would be affected due to the restrictions.
He said the restrictions will be stricter than that imposed during the ongoing night and weekend curfews.
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Section 144 of CrPC prohibiting assembly of five or more people at one spot will be in force during the period.
As part of the curbs, all public places and establishments will be closed for the next 15 days. Essential services will be excluded from the restrictions and would be allowed to operate between 7 am and 8 pm on working days. Besides, domestic helps also would be allowed to travel and work during the 15-day period.
Public transport including buses and trains and shops dealing with essential services like grocery, vegetables and fruit kiosks as well as diaries and bakeries will be allowed to stay open.
Shooting for films, TV serials and advertisements is banned during the 15-day period. Marriages can take place with the presence of only 25 people. Only 20 people will be allowed to funerals.
Theatres, swimming pools, gyms will be closed while only takeaway services will be allowed for restaurants and bars. Home delivery services will be open.
The government, has allowed certain industries which need time to stop and restart operations to operate at 50 per cent capacity. The industries have been asked to accommodate employees on campus or an in an isolate facility and strictly discourage movement of staff outside the premises.
Asking people not to venture out without any valid reasons, Thackeray urged offices to work from home.
While the government has restricted movement of e-commerce deliveries, it has left it to the discretion of district authorities whether domestic help, drivers and attendants can be categorised as essential service providers.
Sops for the poor
As part of his relief package for the poor to tackle the crisis, Thackeray announced the provision of 3 kg of wheat and 2 kg of rice per person for one month to beneficiaries of the Food Security Scheme. The government would provide free food to people for a month under the ‘Shiv Bhojan Thali’ with a target of dishing out 2 lakh plates of food.
As many as 5 lakh licenced hawkers and 12 lakh auto-rickshaw drivers will get ₹1,500 each. Besides, ₹2,ooo will be given to 12 lakh tribal families who are beneficiaries of the ‘Khavati Karj’ scheme for a month.
Thackeray said, 12 lakh registered construction workers will get ₹1,500 each for a month. A help of ₹1,ooo each will also be extended to 35 lakh beneficiaries of pension schemes for two months.
Here’s what will stay open:
- Groceries, vegetable, fruit and milk shops as well as bakeries.
- Healthcare facilities including hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic centres, vaccination centres, medical insurance offices, pharmacies. Industries related to manufacture and distribution of vaccines, sanitisers, masks, medical equipment etc will also continue to function.
- Veterinary services, pet shops, and animal care shelters.
- Public transport including domestic flights, trains, cars, autorickshaws and public buses will be allowed to operate.
- RBI and all offices of SEBI-recognised market infrastructure institutions including stock exchanges will stay open.
- Petrol pumps, ATMs, cargo and postal services will stay open.
Thackeray said he is in talks with the Centre to transport oxygen from other states through the Indian Air Force to fill the gaps in the state’s health infrastructure. He said efforts are being taken to stock up on remdesivir from pharma companies across the country.
The lockdown-like restrictions came on a day Maharashtra logged in 60,212 cases of COVID-19, taking its tally up to 34 lakh cases and 58,245 deaths.
The state so far has carried out the vaccination of 3,29,056 more people against COVID-19, taking the cumulative figure to 1,05,71,680.
Pre-empting a lockdown, while several migrants, eking out a livelihood in Mumbai, started leaving for their hometowns from Monday, the announcement of restrictions of Tuesday saw several others crowding the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.