Mission Begin Again: Maharashtra govt may allow MSRTC services, private offices with more staff from July 1

Mumbai: From July 1, people will witness further unlocking of economic activities under Mission Begin Again in Maharashtra. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope had clearly said there will not be a lockdown 6.0, and hinted that the government will provide further relaxations to restore social, administrative and economic systems. The government is mulling over the introduction of staggered office hours in order to reduce crowding and is likely to allow private and government offices to function with higher numbers of staff. At present, private offices are permitted to function with up to 10% of their staff strength or 10 people, whichever is higher.

In case of the government offices, 15% of staff strength or 15 people, whichever is higher, is allowed. Shops, which are currently permitted to operate on an odd-even basis, may be allowed to work all days except Sunday or some fixed holiday, excluding red zones and cities with an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. The government expects to allow more intra and interdistrict services by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses. At present, only a few services are allowed with strict hygiene conditions.

However, these ST bus services will not be permitted in districts including Thane, Palghar, Jalgaon, and Solapur, where the cases are on the rise. Rickshaws andTaxies with odd and even numbers may be permitted in major cities including Mumbai to facilitate transportation of employees from the essential services. Although they are permitted to travel in the suburban railway, the number of trains are limited and they have to rely on other modes as well.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar told FPJ: "The government will follow the Central directive and further open up the activities from July 1. In rural areas, where the coronavirus is under control, the government will permit more activities by taking due care.The services of ST buses will have to be increased, especially on revenue generating routes as MSRTC is passing through financial stress.’’ He, however, clarified that the government has already directed the district and civic administration to strictly apply curbs in areas where cases are rising.

Even though the online classes have begun, the government may consider allowing schools to reopen for 9, 10 and 12 standards from July, 6 to 8 standards from August, 3 to 5 standards in August, and 1 and 2 standards only after the approval of the school management committee. However, schools and junior colleges from red zones and containment areas may not reopen or start with strict curbs in place.

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