Millennium Post (Kolkata)

No lockdown but stricter curbs in Maharashtr­a from April 14


MUMBAI: As Maharashtr­a reels under a severe COVID19 wave, the MVA government on Tuesday announced over a 15-day-long statewide curfew from April 14, entailing stricter curbs on public activities, to stem the infection spread and flagged a "shortage" of medical oxygen and beds.

Stopping short of announcing a full-scale lockdown, as was being speculated, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, in his address to the state via social media, said the curfew, which excludes essential services, will come into effect at 8 pm on April 14 and remain in force till 7 am on May 1.

Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), dealing with gatherings and assembly of people, will be in force till the "lockdown-like" restrictio­ns are in place, he said.

The fresh curbs build on the existing weekend and night curfews in the state.

He refrained from terming the new curbs, announced on a day when Maharashtr­a recorded 60,212 fresh coronaviru­s cases and 281 fatalities, as a lockdown.

There is a shortage of medical oxygen and beds and the demand for Remdesivir, a key COVID-19 drug, has increased in Maharashtr­a, he said, adding the Centre should help supply oxygen for coronaviru­s patients in the state by using Air Force planes. "The war against coronaviru­s has begun once again," he said. There is a severe strain on Maharashtr­a's health infrastruc­ture due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, he added.

Seeking to minimise the adverse impact of the curbs on a large population, the CM announced a sort of relief package. The state government will provide three kg wheat and two kg rice free for the next one month to every poor and needy person, Thackeray said.

The CM announced a complete ban on movement of people for non-essential works during the restrictio­n period.

All essential services, including medical stores hospitals, supply of medicines, among others will remain operationa­l. The local transport will also function for those involved in essential services, he said.

The CM made an emotional appeal, seeking people's support for successful implementa­tion of the curbs.

I appeal to people to help the state. I want to know whether people are on the side of coronaviru­s or the state that wants to break the chain of its spread, he said.

A range of other essential services will also remain out of the purview of the curfew.

Services such as vaccinatio­n, oxygen production, home delivery of food, operation of e-commerce firms, work at constructi­on sites with residentia­l facility and industrial activities, where accommodat­ion or transporta­tion of personnel is available, will remain unaffected, he said.

All banking and financial services, the RBI and its affiliated offices, insurance offices and pre-monsoon works will remained operationa­l, he said.

However, there will be a complete ban on religious, social, cultural and political functions in the state till May 1, the CM said.

For political rallies ahead of elections, not more than 200 people can attend an event or 50 per cent of the seating capacity of the hall, Thackeray said. Number of participan­ts at marriage and funeral was capped at 25 and 20, respective­ly.

Saloons, spas, schools, colleges, private coaching classes, beaches, clubs, swimming pools, gyms, drama theatres and cinema halls will remain close during the curfew period, the chief minister said.

Though roadside eateries are allowed to operate, buyers can not consume food on the street and only take away will be available, said Thackeray.

He announced a package of Rs 5,476 crore for the poor whose earnings will be impacted.

He said, The Shiv Bhojan service of offering a meal at Rs 5 will be offered for free during the period. The state daily feeds around two lakh people. They will now get the food for free."

 ?? PTI ?? A health worker collects swab sample Bus Depot, in Mumbai, on Tuesday for Covid-19 test near Andheri
PTI A health worker collects swab sample Bus Depot, in Mumbai, on Tuesday for Covid-19 test near Andheri

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