Traders heaved a sigh of relief as shops selling non-essential items and other commercial establishments reopened on Monday in Thane city and neighbouring Navi Mumbai, which are categorised under level-2 of the Maharashtra government's 'unlock' plan.
There was increased movement of citizens in public places, but they were seen adhering to social distancing norms and wearing masks. A number of public transport buses were seen plying on roads in Thane and Navi Mumbai, but they were not crowded.
The Maharashtra government on Friday issued a notification for a five-level plan to relax the coronavirus-induced restrictions in the state, based on the weekly positivity rate and the occupancy of oxygen beds.
In the level-2 category, cities and districts where the positivity rate is five per cent and oxygen bed occupancy is 25 to 40 per cent, essential and non-essential shops are being allowed to open as per the regular timings, but malls, theatres, multiplexes, auditoriums and restaurants have been directed to function at 50 per cent capacity.
Public places and private offices can be opened. Social and political gatherings will be allowed with 50 per cent capacity. Curfew orders will remain in place.
Gyms, salons, beauty centres can open with 50 per cent capacity, as per the government order. Talking to PTI, Pranlal Thakkar, who runs a grocery shop in the main Thane market, said, "The government has provided us with the much-needed relief and we will ensure all COVID-19 norms are followed for our own safety as well as that of customers. Life will limp back to normalcy." In the morning, not many offices and commercial establishments were open and people were still in a wait-and-watch mode.
Civic authorities and police were keeping a watch on activities in markets and other public places to ensure strict compliance with the orders. Other cities and towns, including Kalyan, Bhiwandi, Mira-Bhayander, Ulhasnagar and Vasai-Virar, in Thane and neighbouring Palghar districts, are in level-3 category, which is for places where the positivity rate is five per cent to 10 per cent and the oxygen bed occupancy is more than 40 per cent.
At such places, essential shops have been allowed to remain open till 4 pm, while non-essential shops can remain open till 4 pm only on weekdays. Malls and multiplexes will remain shut and restaurants can open with 50 per cent capacity till 4 pm on weekdays.