Maharashtra announces stricter COVID curbs, night curfew from Monday; Schools, colleges, gyms shut

Maharashtra announces stricter COVID curbs, night curfew from Monday; Schools, colleges, gyms shut
People shop at Dadar market on the eve of New Year amid concern over rising Omicron cases, in Mumbai, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. Photo: PTI

Mumbai: Tightening restrictions in the face of surging COVID-19 cases, the Maharashtra Government on Saturday prohibited movement in public in groups of five or more from 5 in the morning to 11 at night, effective January 10 midnight. Further, no movement will be allowed in public from 11 pm to 5 am except for essential services, a government circular said.

The state had reported more than 40,000 new cases of coronavirus on Friday.

Schools and colleges will be closed till February 15 except for activities required to be undertaken for class 10 and 12 students and administrative activities of teachers, it said.

Competitive exams, where hall tickets have been issued, will be held as per the central government guidelines. All other future exams will be conducted only after receiving permission from the State Disaster Management Authority, the circular said.

No visitors will be allowed at government offices except with written permission of office heads. Online interaction facility will be provided for people through video conference. Government offices should opt for work from home and working hours should be staggered if work from office is required, the circular said.

Private offices have also been asked to rationalize the number of employees coming to work by allowing work from home and staggering working hours.

Attendance at marriages and social, religious, cultural or political gatherings will be capped at 50. At funerals, not more than 20 persons can remain present.

Swimming pools, gyms, spas, wellness centres, beauty salons will remain closed. Hair cutting salons will function at 50 per cent capacity.

Sporting events would be deferred, except national and international-level competitions already scheduled. But such events would take place without spectators and with creation of bio- bubble for players and officials. RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests will be mandatory for players and officials every third day of the event or tournament, the circular said.

Entertainment parks, zoos, museums, forts and other ticketed places for public will be closed. Shopping malls and market complexes can operate at 50 per cent capacity, and information about the present number of visitors should be displayed on noticeboard.

Only fully vaccinated people will be allowed to enter malls and shopping complexes, and these establishments will be closed after 10 pm.

Restaurants and eateries will also function at 50 per cent capacity and present number of visitors will be displayed on the notice board. They too can remain open only till 10 pm.

Cinema theatres and drama halls will also function at 50 percent capacity. Public transport will be allowed only for fully vaccinated persons.

Curbs necessary to prevent overburdening of health infra, says CM

After imposing fresh restrictions in the face of surging COVID-19 cases, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday said his government wanted to prevent health services from coming under excessive pressure.

Thackeray said he had directed the authorities to take strict action against those who violate Covid appropriate behaviour (CAB) norms. He appealed to people not to become "corona messengers" and endanger lives of others.

"We have been fighting the virus for the last two years and have successfully dealt with two waves of the pandemic by taking cautious steps. The virus, in a different avatar, has been spreading rapidly," the CM said.

"Instead of discussing whether it is mild or serious, we need to take steps to stop it, else our health infrastructure will be under tremendous pressure," he said. He did not wish to impose a complete lockdown, Thackeray said.

"We don't want to harm livelihood but want to prevent crowding. When restrictions were eased last year, some people continued to follow health protocols but others were complacent and irresponsible. This will not be tolerated," the CM said.

There was enough medical infrastructure in place, but if doctors and nurses fell sick, "where do we bring human resources from," he asked.

Referring to the closure of educational institutions, he said steps are being taken to ensure that education is not hampered, and online education will continue.

Thackeray also appealed to people to get vaccinated at the earliest. Curbs can be made stricter in districts where vaccination is low, he warned.

(With PTI and IANS inputs)

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.