Mission Begin Again: Maharashtra govt allows inter-district travel, scraps e-pass; fully 'unlocks' hotels

Mumbai: On a day when the number of progressive Covid-19 cases surged at 7,92,541 with 24,583 deaths, the Maharashtra government on Monday, under its 'Mission Begin Again - Unlock 4.0', allowed hotels and lodges to function at 100% capacity, scrapped the e-pass requirement for inter-district movement of persons and goods, passenger movement by private and minibuses and 30 per cent staff in private offices from September 2.

However, schools, colleges, cinema halls, swimming pools and metro rail will continue to remain closed till September 30. Interestingly, the guidelines are completely silent on the reopening of gyms and restaurants, despite repeated assurances. Malls other than in Mumbai will also continue to remain shut.

Amid reports of corruption and protest from the political parties and citizen organisations, the state government finally dropped the condition of e-pass for inter district movement from September 2. But entertainment parks, including theatres in malls and market complexes, bars, auditoriums and assembly halls will remain closed. Social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious and other large congregations will continue to be prohibited.

Hotels in Maharashtra will be allowed to operate at 100 per cent capacity, but will have to vigorously adhere to safety norms. Private offices will be allowed to operate at 30 per cent capacity -- up from the present '10 per cent or 10 people whichever is more" rule. Government offices can deploy 100 per cent of their Group A and Group B staff, and 30 per cent of the rest, in urban hotspots, including Mumbai, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. In the rest of the state, 50 per cent of the staff in government offices can come to work.

All essential and non-essential shops and liquor shops will continue to operate. Similarly, there is no change in ecommerce services. Passenger movement by private / mini-buses and other operators will be allowed, but the standard operating procedures for the same will be issued by the transport commissioner.

According to the guidelines, containment zones in the state, as categorised through the orders dated May 19, 2020, and May 21, 2020, will remain in force until further notice. Considering the local conditions, the concerned district collectors and commissioners of municipal corporations in the state may enforce certain measures and necessary restrictions in specified local areas on permitted nonessential activities and the movement of persons, to contain the spread of the epidemic, with the prior written approval of the chief secretary, Maharashtra.

What's allowed?

•All non-essential shops, including liquor shops, will be allowed to operate as per relaxations and guidelines issued from time to time.

•Hotels and lodges will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity. Separate SOPs will be issued for necessary precautions to be taken while operating these establishments.

•All state governments offices (excluding emergency, health & medical, treasuries, disaster management, police, NIC, food & civil supply, FCI, N.Y.K., municipal services) to work at the following strengths:

• Group A and Group B Officers at 100% strength throughout Maharashtra

•All private offices may operate up to 30% strength as per requirement

What's not allowed

• Schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions will remain closed till September 30, 2020. Online/distance learning shall continue to be permitted and shall be encouraged.

• Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres (including those in malls and market complexes), bars, auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places.

• International air travel of passengers, except as permitted by the MHA.

• Metro rail, gyms and restaurants

• Social /political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/religious functions and other large congregations.

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