(PTI Photo/Kunal Patil)

Mumbai: In a serious bid to discourage congregation of people amidst the coronavirus outbreak, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday issued a two-page directive which says government offices will function with 50% attendance and the staff will be asked to report by rotation.

Furthermore, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who held a marathon review meeting to contain the virus, also announced that the government will instruct operators of railway, state transport and private buses, and Metro railway to run at 50% capacity.

This means the government expects only 35 lakh of the 70 lakh daily rail commuters to travel in local trains, only half of the daily 30 lakh passengers to board BEST buses, and of the 3.5 lakh only 1.5 lakh to take the Metro rail.

Leave of employees will be sanctioned immediately, excluding employees from the departments of public health, medical education and food and drug administration. Besides, the employees required to conduct field duties at the regional level will be excluded.

The BEST will be told not to allow standing passengers in buses and ask those occupying seats to keep proper distance from co-passengers. The government will make efforts to mobilise additional buses in various cities and towns.

Thackeray thanked the citizens for responding to his call to avoid unnecessary travel in Mumbai as there was a 27% dip in passengers on Western Railway, 40% in Mumbai Metro and 51% in state transport buses.

On the other hand, the Central Railway has collected a fine of Rs 30,000 from people for spitting in the vicinity of railway stations.

The shops, meanwhile, will remain open but their timings will be tweaked to discourage crowding. Shops can function in a staggered manner in the morning and afternoon.

The BMC, in its notification, said that funds under the Corporate Environment Responsibility (CER) can be used on facilities such as beds, catering, cleanliness and housekeeping provided for quarantine centres and isolation wards. This will be done in consultation with assistant commissioner of the ward.

Thackeray also directed the medical education department to see that all equipment is available in sufficient quantity in medical colleges and there are enough beds and rooms for quarantine and isolation of coronavirus patients. He said a person with home quarantine stamp, if found outside, will be forcefully admitted in the hospital.

The chief minister has warned of stern action against hoarding and black marketing of essential commodities. Besides, those selling masks, medicines at inflated price will also face stern action.

“We have informed the divisional railway manager to keep close watch at all the railway stations and take necessary action if there is over crowding or mass gathering at the platforms,’’ said Ravindra Sengaonkar, GRP commissioner, Central Railway.

Following orders issued by BMC chief Praveen Pardeshi, Assistant Municipal Commissioners also swung into action and issued orders for closure of shops on roads in their jurisdiction on alternate days.

For instance, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, G North ward, has issued a specific order for such containment measures in Dadar, Mahim and Dharavi.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, all shops and establishments (except grocery stores and medical stores) on five roads in Dadar, two in Mahim and three in Dharavi will be closed.

Similarly, they will be closed on four roads in Dadar, two in Mahim and three in Dharavi on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Anybody found flouting these rules will be liable for penal action under Section 188 of the IPC.

Following the government’s decision, BEST’s official twitter handle put out an advisory stating: ‘‘Mumbaikars are requested not to travel standing in the BEST buses from tomorrow onwards.’’

There will be ticket inspectors on ground who will guide passengers. If there is a high demand for buses, we will press more vehicles into service on the routes upon consultation with respective depot managers,” BEST spokesperson Manoj Varad told The Free Press Journal.

With inputs from Dipti Singh, Swapnil Mishra and Pratip Acharya

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