INDIA. Mumbai: With a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, the worst-pandemic-affected Maharashtra state will come under strict “lockdown-type measures” from Wednesday night for about a fortnight, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced here on Tuesday night.
Prohibitory orders under section 144 under the Indian Penal Code, restricting the movement of people, (Sanchar-bandi) will be imposed day-night from April 14 till May 1. Besides, the night curfew, as earlier, would continue, the chief minister said in a Face Book live.
The essential services and the public transportation system, including Mumbai’s suburban railway and buses would continue to run. But no one would be allowed to move without a valid reason except for people notified under essential services. The fundamental restriction relates to the movement of people and not to goods and services.
Thackeray announced a Rs 5476 crore package containing a slew of initiatives to help people, particularly those who depend on hand-to-mouth sustenance. The Maharashtra government will provide 3 kg wheat and 2 kg rice free for the next one month to every poor and needy person in the state while coronavirus-induced restrictions are in place. “There would be roughly seven crore beneficiaries,” Thackeray said.
One-time assistance of Rs 1500 each to 12 lakh construction workers, 25 lakh domestic workers, 5 lakh registered hawkers, and 12 lakh registered auto-rickshaw men would be given. Besides, Rs 2000 per family will be given to adivasis eligible for assistance under “Khawti” scheme.
The benefits for pensioners
Nearly 35 lakh beneficiaries of Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana, Shravanbal, Indira Gandhi National Old Age pension scheme, Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme, Indira Gandhi National Disabled Pension Scheme, will be given an assistance of Rs 1000/- for two months in advance.
An amount of Rs 3300 crore has been earmarked to provide infrastructure and equipments including ventilators, to provide urgent medicare to COVID-19 patients. The collectors have been authorized to incur necessary expenditure in this regard.
As a relief to small and medium entrepreneurs, Thackeray has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend the deadline for filing GST returns by three months.
All offices of Central, state, and local governments including their statutory authorities and organizations, PSUs, private banks and cooperatives, the companies providing essential services, all organizations declared by RBI as essential, insurance companies, Embassies, consulates, and the employees of Customs and multi-modal operators and accredited journalists have been exempted from the “lockdown-type measures”.
Besides, all organizations recognized by SEBI as market infrastructure institutes, including stock exchanges, depositories, clearing corporations and other intermediaries registered with SEBI, all non-banking financial services, all micro-finance institutions, offices of advocates if operations of courts, tribunals, and Commissions are on, Data centres, cloud services, IT services supporting critical infrastructure and services have been exempted. However these offices should work with minimum staff and not more than 50 percent of their capacity.
Also, Government and private security services, electric and gas supply services, postal services, ATMs, units engaged in the production of material for impending rainy season, petrol pumps and petroleum-related products including offshore/onshore production, cargo services, export-import of all commodities, agricultural activities and all allied activities required to ensure seamless continuity of agriculture sector including the availability of farming input, seeds, fertilizers and equipment and repairs thereof, cold storages and warehousing services, E-commerce(only for the supply of essential goods and services), telecom services have been exempted.
Hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centres, pharmacies, medical insurance offices, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers and distributors of masks, sanitizers, their ancillaries, raw material and support services, veterinary services, animal care shelters, pet food shops, groceries, vegetable shops, fruit vendors, dairies, bakeries, all type of food shops and pre-monsoon activities and all services by local authorities fall under essential services. Local authorities need to study possible locations for grocery, vegetable, and fruit shopping for civilians. They must rule out spots that become densely populated.
Instructions for shops
A fine of Rs 500 will be imposed on a shop owner if he/she or anyone working in the shop violates COVID-19 guidelines. If it is found that the shop owner is serving a customer defaulting COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, the fine of Rs 1000/- will be collected from the shop owner. In case of repeated default, the shop will be ordered to be closed till the end of notification of COVID-19 as a disaster.
Restaurants, bars, and hotels
No in-dining will be allowed in restaurants, bars, and hotels except for those inside the campus and which form an integral part of the hotel. Only home delivery will be allowed and there shall be no visiting any restaurant or bar for ordering purposes. The home deliveries to buildings housing more than one family should be restricted to the entrance of the building. Any default will attract a fine of Rs 1000 to the offender and Rs 10,000 on the establishment. In case of repeat offense, the license of the establishment can be withdrawn till notification for COVID-19 remains in force.
Auto rickshaw-Driver plus two passengers, Taxi(four-wheeler)-Driver plus 50 percent vehicle capacity, Bus-full seating capacity(as per RTO passing). But no standing passengers will be allowed. A fine of Rs 500 will be imposed upon a person without a face mask using public transport. In a four-wheeler taxi, the person not wearing a mask and the driver will be fined an amount of Rs 500/- each. Similarly, the private buses will ply only with their seating capacity and no standees will be allowed. Any default will be punishable with a fine of Rs 1000/- The railways will have to ensure that there are no standing passengers in the general compartment of out-station trains.
Factories and building construction
The factories employing more than 500 workers will have to make their quarantine facilities for workers. Also, the developers engaged in building construction will have to make arrangements as far as possible to provide accommodation to the construction workers near the construction site. Besides, they will have to get them medical examined and comply with COVID-19 formalities.
All cinema houses, theatres, auditoriums, barbershops, Spas, saloons, clubs, amusement parks, gyms, sports complexes, gardens, and places of worship will remain closed. Shooting for films, serial, ads won’t be permitted. All shops, malls, shopping centres not performing essential services, schools, private caching classes will remain closed.
No religious, social, and political functions and corner meetings will be allowed. The marriages will be allowed with a maximum of 25 people.
The status of COVID-19 patients
Till April 12, Monday, the state recorded 34,58,245 patients. Of these 5,65,000 cases were active. 60,212 new cases were detected on Tuesday. The doubling rate of positivity has now been reduced to 40 days. Isolation beds-80 percent occupied, oxygen beds-68,000..43 percent occupied, ICU beds..20,682-79 percent occupied, and ventilators…33.97 percent utilized.
Availability of oxygen
Maharashtra produces 1200 MT oxygen per day. Of this 950 MT oxygen is consumed per day. Thackeray has called upon the PM to provide oxygen to Maharashtra given rising cases, saying that the current stock will be exhausted if cases continue to increase. “We cannot afford to get oxygen from other states that are over 1000 km away by road. I request the PM to provide oxygen using airways. Air Force has to be roped in for this,” Thackeray said.
The state requires 40,000 to 50,000 Remdesivir injections per day. If the number of patients continues to rise, this requirement will be double, Thackeray added.
The chief minister said that instead of the state enforcing restrictions, the people should themselves adhere to these restrictions like “Janata Curfew” to help the government in its war against the coronavirus.