Maharashtra to face stricter restrictions to curb COVID-19, says Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray

Uddhav Thackeray
Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray addresses a press conference on JNU violence, at his residence in Mumbai on Jan 6, 2020. (Photo: IANS)

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday announced a “mini-lockdown” in the State from 8 p.m. on April 14 for the following 15 days. The State government also announced a financial package of ₹5,400 crore to help individuals who would be directly impacted due by the restrictions and closure of business.

“I am not happy while announcing these restrictions. I have been warning for the last one month and now is the time to take actions to break the chain. The only aim is to save lives. We can revive economy if we survive,” Mr. Thackeray said in his address to the State on Tuesday night.

According to the guidelines announced by the State, Section 144 is to be imposed for 15 days and no one is allowed to move in public places without valid reason. All establishments, public places, activities and services shall remain closed. Only services and activities mentioned in the essential category are exempted.

Mr. Thackeray said that he was aware of the hardships faced by the poor due to such restrictions and that the State government had decided to take steps to provide relief. “Seven crore beneficiaries under the food security scheme will get 3 kg wheat and 2 kg rice per person for free for one month. The Shiv Bhojan thali will be provided for free. Around 35 lakh beneficiaries in a total of five welfare schemes will get ₹1,000 per person per month for the next two months,” he said.

The government will also provide ₹1,500 to each of the 12 lakh registered construction workers and 5 lakh registered hawkers. Tribal families will be paid ₹2,000 per family under the Khavti scheme. Also, ₹3,300 crore is being provided for district level schemes in the fight against the pandemic.

Highlighting the State’s need of oxygen for patients, Mr.Thackeray said he had requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow transportation of oxygen by the Air Force to ensure its speedy delivery to Maharashtra from far-off places. “Considering the financial burden, I have also sought exemption from State GST contribution for three months,” he said.

The essential category includes health services, veterinary services, groceries and vegetables shops, fruit vendors, dairies, bakeries, confectioneries, cold storage facilities, offices of diplomats of various countries, banks and financial services, agriculture-related activities, export-import activities, e-commerce, accredited media, IT services, ATMs, gas supply, port activities and customs-related activities.

Mr. Thackeray said that there would be no restrictions on public transport as it was important for those working in essential services to travel. The principle of “essential for essential is essential” would be followed during the curbs. Buses will run on seating capacity only. Persons arriving/departing by bus/train/flight from or towards their place of residence are allowed to travel on showing a valid ticket.

Work is to be allowed in the exempted category from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, including in offices of Central, State and civic bodies, private banks and PSUs, insurance and Mediclaim offices, pharmaceutical company offices, offices of advocates, etc. The offices can work only with 50% capacity.

Private vehicles can work only for emergency services. Private buses can ply with only seating capacity. All restaurants, hotels and bars are to remain closed and allowed only parcel service.

Manufacturing units for essential services can run on full capacity.

All previous directions regarding the closure of theatres, malls, salons and swimming pools are to continue. Any residential co-operative society with more than five active coronavirus positive cases will be treated as a micro-containment zone.

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