“The war against Covid-19 has begun once again, but this time the situation is worse than last year. And so we are imposing lockdown-like restrictions in the state. I urge the public to treat it like a ‘Janta curfew’ and follow it strictly,” said Thackeray. He used the Marathi word ‘sancharbandi’ for curfew, but said “we are not calling it a lockdown”.
As per the standard operating procedures issued on Tuesday, public transport like local trains, taxis and autos will continue to operate, with restrictions, mostly for people engaged in essential services or for offices and establishments exempted from restrictions. However, the public can use public transport for a valid reason. Also, home delivery of newspapers is allowed.
Shrines, schools, malls, parks to stay shut
Though, for a 15-day period, public transport like local trains, taxis and autos will continue to operatewith restrictions across the state, mostly for people who are engaged in essential services or for offices and establishments that have been exempted from restrictions, state government officials said that the general public can use public transport in emergencies, for essential activities or for a valid reason.
For example, students with valid hall tickets accompanied by an adult, or travellers boarding a train or flight or people going to vaccination centres can use public transport.
Private vehicles, the order makes clear, can ply only for essential/emergency purposes. “Unnecessary travel should not happen and will not even be allowed,” CM Thackeray said. A decision on allowing domestic help, drivers and attendants will have to be taken by local administrative bodies.
The state government order states that “internal movement” of deliveries up to the flats will be done by the dedicated staff of the building or the cooperative housing society.
Restaurants and bars will continue to remain shut, but home delivery will be allowed. Visits to restaurants for ordering or takeaway will not be allowed. Shoots of films and series have been stopped, and even e-commerce deliveries have been restricted to just essential goods. Also, maximum capacity has been cut down to 25 people for weddings. All employees engaged in these services should either get themselves vaccinated and if they are not eligible, they should have a Covid-19 negative certificate, the government has said.
The new state order makes no mention of a mandatory RT-PCR test with a negative report valid for 15 days for newspaper vendors, e-commerce and food delivery personnel, staff at groceries, pharmacies, industries, eateries etc. However, the order states that all personnel in the abovementioned categories should be vaccinated at the earliest as per the Government of India guidelines. The government guidelines allow for vaccination of those who are 45 years old or older.
Also, manufacturing units engaged in production of items needed in essential services can stay operational. And those industries which have accommodation for staff within their facilities or in an isolated facility can continue to function. Also, construction sites where labourers live on site will be allowed to function.
Any industrial process that is a net consumer of oxygen will not be permitted. Roadside vendors will be allowed to function from 7am to 8pm, and only takeaway will be allowed. However, if there is crowding or rules are not followed, these stalls will be shut.
“I am also urging retired doctors, nurses and groups engaged in social work to join our fight against Covid once again. We are in the process of augmenting health infrastructure but are in need of trained hands to help us,” Thackeray said.
Religious places, malls, entertainment hubs, water parks, schools and colleges would continue to remain closed.
The state has exempted only the Pandharpur assembly constituency from these restrictions due to the scheduled bypoll which had been announced after the death of the legislator Bharat Bhalke last year. The CM said all that the lockdown-like restrictions will be imposed there only after voting day in the Pandharpur constituency, which is Saturday, April 17.
The state order issued on Tuesday evening will be valid till May 1.