In accordance with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s directives, the relief and rehabilitation department has started framing SOPs for a limited lockdown. The announcement is expected after March-end, perhaps on April 1 or 2, for at least 15 days. The government is mulling reducing the timings of the shops, cutting down BEST services and asking Railways to strictly implement crowd management.
However, the government wants economic activities to continue but in adherence to Covid norms. The relief and rehabilitation department has initiated dialogue with other departments to know their views on the impact of the limited lockdown and steps to be taken for vigorous implementation of Covid-19 containment measures.
The state’s Covid taskforce had, at an emergency meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, on Sunday had suggested the imposition of a limited lockdown for four to six days. However, Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope opposed it saying that it would not help control the virus spread or ease the burden on the health infrastructure.
However, he made a strong case for a 15-day lockdown, with restrictions on the gathering of people, especially in public places.
Tope said that if people did not follow the Covid norms laid out, then a total lockdown would have to be imposed. “If people do not wear masks and do not follow social distancing, then the government will have to impose a lockdown,” he noted.
A senior bureaucrat engaged in the preparation of SOPs, told The Free Press Journal, “At present, it is to impress upon the people the gravity of the situation and make them take SOPs seriously and rigorously adopt Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.” He further said that the district and civic administration have been directed to create awareness campaigns urging people not to panic and not to leave where they were currently stationed.
The government has sought the views of ruling and opposition parties, as some of them including NCP, Shiv Sena and the BJP have suggested that the government should not impose a fresh lockdown but introduce more stringent restrictions.
Meanwhile, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra raised concerns over the rising corona cases in Maharashtra and called upon CM Thackeray for ‘emergency permission’ to vaccinate everyone willing to take the jab. He added that Maharashtra was the ‘nerve-centre’ of the country’s economic activity. He also said that more lockdowns would hamper the state.
“Over half the new daily cases are in Maharashtra. The state is the nerve-centre of the country’s economic activity & more lockdowns will be debilitating. Maharashtra needs emergency permission to vaccinate EVERY willing person. No shortage of vaccines,” Mahindra tweeted.
In another tweet, he said that he agreed aggressive testing was the need of the hour but speeding up vaccination was needed.