Taking errant citizens to task for rampant violations of Covid-19 norms, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday sternly warned of a fresh lockdown if people failed to wear masks, use sanitisers and maintain social distancing. Terming the situation ‘serious’, he said, "Now, my question to you is: Should we impose a lockdown? I will seek this answer from you in the coming eight days. Those who do not want a lockdown will observe protocols like using masks, washing hands and keeping physical distance."
In a web address, Thackeray said, "People who want a lockdown again will flout these rules. Let us see who wants a lockdown, and who doesn’t. I am very clear about this. Wear a mask - prevent a lockdown. Observe discipline - prevent a lockdown." His admonition came hours after a week-long lockdown was announced in Amravati while stringent restrictions have been imposed in Akola, Yavatmal, Buldana, Washim, Pune and Nashik.
He announced the ‘Mi Jababdar’ (I am responsible) campaign. "Here, everyone will take upon themselves the responsibility to mask up in public, sanitise and maintain physical distance," he said. "The ‘My Family, My Responsibility’ campaign was launched when you were at home, but it will be difficult to do so now and will strain the system,’’ he added.
Further, the CM announced that from Monday onwards, all political, social and religious events would be banned for a few days.
He led a scathing attack against the Centre over the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. He referred to the Centre as 'uparwala' (almighty) saying, "When will the common man get the coronavirus vaccine? Balasaheb used to say 'uparwale ki marzi’ [it is up to the almighty]."
He said it is up to the Centre, which is deciding how many vaccines must be given to the states. "The state government is carrying out the vaccination drive and so far, about 9 lakh Covid warriors and frontline workers have been vaccinated. There are no deadly side effects that came to the fore. I urge the remaining Covid warriors and frontline workers to come forward and get vaccinated,’’ he exhorted.
"In another two months, a couple of companies will give us more vaccines. Their production and trials are underway. Soon, we will get more vaccine stocks, after which we will open up vaccination for citizens,’’ he said.
'Mask is armour'
Thackeray made a strong case for wearing masks while explaining the gravity of the situation. Till the vaccine is available to all, masks were the armour for everybody in the war against the virus, he said. ‘’If we fall short by not masking up, this invisible enemy will attack. At times, this enemy will even attack us through our friends and dear ones. Let me request you again. Wearing a mask is mandatory. Both, before and after being vaccinated,’’ he opined.
He said the number of active cases, which had fallen to just 40,000, is now at 53,000 in Maharashtra. Cases are also rising in Mumbai and Pune. "This has happened in the span of just a week. Let me put forth some numbers before you. Please think about it. Today, there were 6,971 positive cases in our state. A fortnight ago, the cases were in the range of 2,000 to 2,500,’’ he noted.
Will know in a fortnight if there's a second wave
The CM said, gradually, normal activity had resumed. The idea was to revive the stalled economic cycle. Unfortunately, while the economy was reviving, the danger of corona is upon us again. ‘’In banquet halls, including those in five-star hotels, we have imposed strict conditions. If we find any rules being flouted in these banquet halls, we are taking action against the management. Fines are also being imposed on those found without masks in public,’’ he added.
Thackeray argued that lockdown was not the way out, but stopping physical contact is the way to break the transmission chain. A century ago, there was the Spanish flu pandemic. Even then, masking up, washing hands and maintaining physical distancing was the three-pronged strategy used.
"But corona is rearing its head in the state again. We will know in the coming fortnight if we have a second wave. We became too relaxed in the intervening period. People began going out, attending weddings. Hotels, shops, locals and places of worship were opened up," he said.