CM Uddhav Thackeray
CM Uddhav Thackeray
Photo Credit: Twitter/@CMOMaharashtra

In a desperate bid to break the virus transmission chain, the state government on Wednesday issued fresh guidelines involving emergency measures to be effective from 8pm on April 22 till 7am on May 1. The state government has announced that only essential service providers will be allowed to travel by public transport. Government offices will function at 15 per cent capacity and only 25 people may attend a wedding.

The five-page order was issued by Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte on a day when 67,468 new cases and 568 deaths linked to coronavirus were reported in the last 24 hours.

All government offices will operate with only 15 per cent attendance, except for emergency services directly connected to pandemic management. Private offices will function at 15 per cent of their total strength or five people, whichever is more.

In case of Mantralaya and Central Government offices in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, the head of the department can decide on higher attendance after seeking permission for the same from the CEO of the Maharashtra State Disaster Management Authority. In case of other government offices, the head of the office can decide on higher attendance after seeking permission from the local disaster management authority.

The number of guests at weddings has been capped at 25 and defaulters will have to pay a fine of Rs 50,000.

The government has reserved use of public transport for government personnel, medical professionals or those in need of medical treatment. All government personnel (state/central/local) tickets/passes will be issued on the basis of a government-issued identity card only. State government or local government owned public buses will ply at 50 per cent of their capacity, without standees. Inter-city or inter district travel by long-distance trains and buses will be subject to certain conditions.

According to the government order, private transport, excluding buses, can ply only for emergency or essential services or valid reasons, with driver plus 50 per cent of the seating capacity. These are not expected to be inter-district or inter-city and should be confined to the city of residence of the travellers. Inter-district or inter-city travel is allowed only if required for performing an essential service or in case of medical emergencies or attending unavoidable events like funerals or severe sickness in the family. Anyone flouting the order in letter or spirit shall be punishable by a fine of Rs 10,000.

Private buses can operate at 50% seating capacity, without standees. Inter-city or inter-district travel by private buses shall be subject to controls, including that the bus service operator must restrict halts to a maximum of two in a city and shall inform the local DMA about the same and the schedule. The local disaster management authority (LDMA) may ask to change these if so desired.

At halts where passengers alight, all passengers shall be hand-stamped with ‘14 days’ home quarantine’. This stamping must be done by the operator. Thermal scanners shall be used and anyone with symptoms shall be moved to corona care centres or to a hospital.

The LDMA may decide to conduct rapid antigen tests at the alighting point by appointing an authorised lab for this purpose. The cost of the test, if so decided, shall be borne by the passenger/ service provider. If any operator is found to be flouting these guidelines, then the DMA may levy a fine of Rs 10,000. Repeated defaults will lead to cancellation of the licence to operate till the end of the notification of Covid-19 as a pandemic.

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Free Press Journal