COVID-19: Maharashtra govt mulls curbs on timings of trains, buses to control crowds

The Maharashtra Government is exploring various options to avoid total lockdown but announce stringent curbs as the state has yet to reach its second peak during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. State recorded 49,447 new cases with 277 deaths and 401172 active patients on Saturday and it expects further hike in the days to come. Against this backdrop, the government is internally preparing for a total lockdown or imposition of strict restrictions. A senior officer said the government is likely to issue new guidelines on stringent restrictions by Sunday night so that its implementation will begin from Monday across the state. These guidelines are likely to be in place for 15 days.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is meeting cross sections to know their mind before announcing the government decision to break the virus chain. He will meet political parties to seek their cooperation with a plea not to indulge into politics when the situation is “alarming.’’ Thackeray on Friday warned of a full lockdown if people did not limit their movement. Thackeray said that people were not taking necessary precautions such as wearing masks or avoiding unnecessary travel. “The situation in the state is worrying. If it continues, our health infrastructure will be inadequate in the next 15-20 days,” he said.

A senior minister, who is involved in his exercise, told Free Press Journal, ‘’If the government decides to total lockdown, it will not be similar to last year. Trains, BEST, public and private transport will not be completely shut but there will be some curbs on their movement. The government will coordinate with the Railways for crowd control management especially during peak hours. The government will once again urge the private officers to change their timings in order to reduce crowding on roads and in trains.’’ He said the state government will request the Centre to organise additional trains so that the migrants and unorganised workers, who want to return to their home state or home district can travel smoothly and without crowding.

Another minister said the additional restrictions will be imposed on the functioning of hotels, restaurants, bars, malls and theatres or their closure for 15 days will also be considered. Thackeray on Saturday held interaction with the representatives of drama, cinema, multiplexes and theatres who have assured their cooperation in government’s war against the virus.

Thackeray also met representatives of gyms who assured to extend their cooperation. Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte said virus transmission threat is more in gyms due to breathing after exercise and asked them to strictly observe COVID 19 norms. In addition, the government will try to rope in doctors on bond into corona containment. Moreover, industrial units may be asked to organise transport for their workers while IT and services industries will be urged to prefer work from home. As far as manufacturing units are concerned, the government wants them to run with full capacity by adhering to COVID 19 norms.

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