Mumbai: The Maharashtra government proposes to impose fresh restrictions on the movement of people and vehicles and also on congregations, to avoid the spread of corona infection and a consequent spurt in Covid-19 cases, as it anticipates a tsunami of a second wave.
Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Monday reiterated Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s view that the government had not decided on the imposition of a fresh lockdown but there is a strong possibility that certain relaxations announced under its MissionBeginAgain initiative would be withdrawn and curbs imposed.
“The state government plans to impose certain restrictions again. The government will make an announcement in the next two days after meeting with the Chief Minister. The government is compelled to go for such drastic steps as people are not strictly following social distancing norms and other Covid-19 protocols,’’ said Tope. He argued that the reimposition of some restrictions was necessary in the wake of a surge in new cases across the state.
He claimed that the government had no plan to allow full-scale resumption of local train services. Tope said there has been crowding on roads and in public places, especially during Diwali shopping and people are thronging in large numbers at markets.
“The rise in Covid-19 cases is also because of crowding at the beaches and other tourist destinations. The government plans to restrict gatherings at tourist places where people do not adhere to Covid norms. Besides, the government also wants to curb the unnecessary movement and crowding of people at public places. It will take further coronavirus containment steps in schools and colleges and will only allow 50 people, instead of 200, during marriages,’’ he noted.
Tope said the government was also contemplating increasing fines for those moving in public places without masks, just as the Delhi government had done. “These restrictions are under the government’s active consideration to combat virus spread and they will be announced after meeting with the Chief Minister,’’ he added.
Along similar lines, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar made a strong case for the introduction of restrictions in Mumbai, the financial and commercial parts of the city where heavy migration takes place. “Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and a couple of other cities. The next eight days are crucial, when the government will review the situation and depending on the number of cases and the gravity of the spread of infection, will decide on the imposition of fresh restrictions,’’ he said.
Tope’s statement is important as the state government, since May 31, under its MissionBeginAgain plan, had begun unlocking several activities and introduced a slew of relaxations. The government has allowed the reopening of malls, gyms, temples and other places of worship, essential and non-essential shops, theatres and multiplexes.
Further, the government also increased the number of staff both in government and private offices and inter- and intra-state transport. Besides, local trains were allowed to operate for essential staff and there was a resumption of limited number of flights to and from Mumbai and the reopening of schools for Classes 9 to 12. The government had also allowed the reopening of industries and remobilisation of workers who had returned to their hometowns during the lockdown.