The Maharashtra government late Wednesday night announced a series of restrictions – titled “Breaking the Chain” – to combat the deadly spike in coronary virus cases in the state.
These rules will take effect from 8 pm on Thursday and remain in place until 7 am May 1.
Under the new rules, attendance at all private and government offices (center and state) not directly related to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic will be capped at 15 percent.
Offices providing essential services should work at the “minimum required capacity” but cannot have more than 50 percent of their workforce present at any given time. The presence of people providing these services should be similarly reduced but if necessary this can increase by up to 100 per cent.
Attendance at marriage and marriage ceremonies is capped at 25. These ceremonies can be held “only as one event in a single hall that does not extend beyond 2 hours”.
Breaking this rule, says state government order, would result in a fine of Rs 5 0,000.
Private vehicles, with the exception of buses, may only be used for essential services or legitimate reasons, such as buses, with a driver + 50 per cent of seating capacity. Private vehicles are not allowed to travel between cities or interstate unless they are an emergency or are needed for essential services.
Violation of this rule will result in a fine of Rs 10,000.
Private buses can run with a maximum of 50 percent seating capacity, with no fixed passengers. Inter-city or inter-area travel by bus is also regulated, with service operators instructed not to make more than two stops in a city.
Service operators who violate these guidelines can be fined up to Rs 10,000, with frequent defaults leading to license cancellations until the pandemic subsides.
Use of public transport is limited to government personnel (state, center or local), all medical personnel (including doctors, paramedics and laboratory technologies), and any person requiring medical treatment or any person with a special disability and his assistant.
Each of these categories of people must also have a valid ID.
State-run buses are also limited to 50 percent capacity, with the no-stand rule to enforce.
For state-run and private buses, all passengers will be issued with hand stamps – to be made by the bus operator – indicating a 14-day home quarantine period, and may face mandatory and random rapid antigen testing when they unwrapping.
On Wednesday Maharashtra – the worst affected state in the country – reported over 67,000 new Covid cases and 568 deaths – the most in a day – related to the virus in the last 24 hours.
Pune remains the worst affected city with 10,852 cases and 35 deaths. Mumbai recorded 7,684 cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours, followed by Nagpur with 7,555 cases and 41 deaths.
Nashik, where 24 people died today due to a disruption in the oxygen supply triggered by a tanker leak, reported 6,703 cases and 29 deaths.
Prime Minister Uddhav Thackeray has already announced a night-time curfew and a weekend lockdown to try to stop the virus’s growth, but that doesn’t seem to have had any effect.