The Maharashtra government is issuing harsh curbs in the state after a surge in Covid-19 cases

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday announced strict restrictions in the state due to a massive surge in cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The state government has also issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the curbs.

The restrictions will take effect from 8pm on Thursday and will be in place until 7am on May 1, as ordered by the state government.

“The state government is satisfied that the province of Maharashtra is under threat of spreading Covid-19 virus, and therefore it is essential to take some urgent measures to prevent and contain virus spread,” the Maharashtra government order said.

State government SOPs say that travel by public or private transport is not allowed except for essential services, medical reasons or vaccination.

The number of guests at weddings has been capped at 25 and the function cannot proceed beyond two hours, according to a government order. Families found to deny the order will be fined 50,000 and the “abuse” location will be closed until Covid-19 is announced as disaster continues in force.

The government and private offices were asked to allow only 15 percent of staff. The SOPs also say that only those private offices that provide essential services or are in exempt categories can operate.

This comes on a day when Maharashtra recorded 568 deaths due to Covid-19 – the highest ever since the start of the pandemic – and 67,468 fresh cases. This pushed the count across the state to 40,27,827 and death toll to 61,911, according to a Maharashtra government health department bulletin.

The nationwide highest daily count to date – 68,631 – was reported on April 18.

Of the 568 deaths, 303 occurred in the last 48 hours, the health department said.

The ministers in Maharashtra confirmed earlier on Wednesday that chief minister Uddhav Thackeray will announce a harsh closure. On Tuesday, a tougher lockout issue was discussed at a cabinet meeting where most were in favor of a long shutdown in the state, replacing existing restrictions that they said have been unable to contain the Covid-19 spread in the state.

“There is no other option, but to go for a lockdown,” Maharashtra’s health minister Rajesh Tope said after Tuesday’s meeting.

Maharashtra has already been under restrictions such as night curfew and locksmiths due to increasing number of Covid-19 cases, which has shown a sharp surge since February. Last week, Section 144 was imposed, which prohibits the collection of more than four people.

There have been concerns in Maharashtra about the deteriorating situation of Covid-19. The state health department has predicted there would be a shortage of beds in nearly every region by May 2.