The Maharashtra Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, unanimously decided on Wednesday to extend the lockdown with the present stringent restrictions till May 31. The lockdown was in place until May 15 but the cabinet agreed that lifting the curbs would lead to a spread in viral infection and would impact the government’s move to break the chain of virus transmission.
The government will issue a notification to this effect on Thursday. The decision comes at a point when the Centre has hailed the Mumbai and Pune Models and the Maharashtra pattern for the containment of the pandemic. Already the district collectors of Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Solapur, Akola, Amravati, Buldana, Sindhudurg and Nashik have imposed lockdowns ‘in the wake of unabated rise in COVID 19 cases’. On Wednesday, Maharashtra reported 46,781 new cases and 816 deaths, with 5,46,129 active cases and 78,007 progressive deaths.
A senior minister told The Free Press Journal, “The cabinet was in favour of extending the lockdown so that the government can use that time to strengthen the health infrastructure, reduce stress on medical facilities and mobilise additional oxygen, Remdesivir and other medicines. The cabinet was against the relaxation of sweeping curbs, as it was likely to again revive the cases.”
Prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC, banning the assembly of five or more people at one spot, are in force. Local train services in Mumbai and public transport will continue to remain open only for essential services staff of the government and the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation. Further, vegetable shops, grocery stores, and milk outlets will continue to function between 7am and 11am. Essential services have been exempted from the purview of the curbs.
Another minister said the government had extended until May 31 all the restrictions that had been imposed through its ‘Break the Chain’ orders issued on April 13 and April 21, along with all additions and clarifications issued thereof till 7am on May 15.
Meanwhile, the government has suspended the vaccination for the 18-44 age group due to the shortage of vaccines. However, it will continue inoculating citizens above 45 years with the available doses.