The Maharashtra government on Wednesday issued several new restrictions including a ban on inter-city and inter-district travel and curbs on office attendance in an attempt to bring the spiralling coronavirus infections under control.
Central, state and local governing body offices shall function with 15 per cent attendance. But emergency services dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic will be exempted from this rule.
Other government and private offices, allowed to operate as per the earlier rules, can function with 15 per cent strength or five people – whichever is more, stated the notification.
As to inter-city and inter-district travel ban, exemption will be made for travel for medical emergency, essential services, funeral or medical attendance, the government said.
Contrary to expectation, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray did not announce the new restrictions himself, unlike last time. The government notification also did not use the world ‘lockdown’.
The new restrictions under the government’s ‘Break- the-Chain’ program will come into effect from Thursday 8 pm and will remain effective till 7 am on May 1, the notification said.
What the new restrictions are like:
Govt / Private offices
- All government offices (State, Central, under local authority) to operate only with 15 per cent attendance except for emergency services directly connected to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other essential services office also to have 15% staff or 5 people whichever is less.
- Private buses can ply with 50% of seating capacity with no standing travellers.
Private Bus Operators
- Bus service operator must restrict the stoppages to a maximum of two in a city and shall inform the local District Management Authority (DMA) about the same and the schedule. Local DMA may ask to change these if so desired.
- At the stoppages where passengers are alighting all passengers shall be stamped on the hand for 14 days home quarantine. This stamping must be done by the operator.
- Thermal scanners shall be used and anyone with symptoms shall be moved to corona care centres or to a hospital.
- Local DMA may decide to do the RAT test at the alighting point by appointing one of the authorised labs to give these services. The cost of the test, if so decided shall be borne by the passenger/ service provider.
- If an operator is found to be flouting these guidelines, then DMA may levy a fine of 10000/-. Repeated defaults will lead to the cancellation of the license to operate till the end of notification of COVID-19 as a pandemic.
- The local Disaster Management Authority can waive off the rules regarding mandatory stamping for buses arriving from certain origins as per the local conditions.
Only the following categories of people will be allowed to use local trains, metro and monorail services (excepting long-distance trains):
- All government personnel (state/ central/ local), tickets/ passes to be issued to the above category of personnel on the basis of a Government-issued identity card only.
- All medical personnel (Doctors/ paramedics/ lab technicians/ hospital and medical clinic staff etc). Tickets/ passes to be issued on the basis of an identity card issued by the concerned medical organization.
- Any persons needing medical treatment or specially-abled persons and one person accompanying the needy.
- State government or local government-owned public buses shall ply at 50 per cent of the capacity with no standing passengers.
- The marriage ceremony may be conducted only as a single event in a single hall not extending beyond 2 hours with a maximum of a total of 25 persons attending the same. Any family seen to be flaunting the restraints or not following these in letter and spirit may be fined Rs 50000/-, and any location that is misused or is defaulting in the spirit of the restrictions shall be closed till the promulgation of COVID-19 as a disaster remains in force.
- Private Passenger transport excluding buses can ply only for emergency or essential services or valid reasons with driver plus of the seating capacity. These are not expected to be inter-district or inter-city and should be confined to the city of residence Of the travellers. Inter-district or inter-city travel is allowed only if required for performing an essential service or in case of medical emergencies or attending unavoidable events like funerals or severe sickness of family. Anyone flouting the order in letter or spirit shall be punishable by fine of Rs 10000/-.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra on Wednesday recorded 67,468 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking its tally beyond the 40 lakh mark. With 568 more patients succumbing to the deadly contagious virus, the death toll increased to 61,911.