Mumbai, Apr 22 (PTI) Fresh restrictions on travel, attendance in offices and wedding functions announced by the Maharashtra government to check the COVID-19 spread came into force on Thursday night.
Maharashtra, facing an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, is already under severe restrictions since April 14 and the fresh 'lockdown-like' curbs were announced on Wednesday to break the chain of viral transmission in the state.
Prohibitory orders, banning assembly of five or more people at once place, are in force till 7 am on May 1, while non-essential activities are not being allowed.
Essential services, including grocery stores, are permitted to operate only between between 7 and 11 am.
The new restrictions under the government's `Break- the-Chain' programme came into force at 8 pm on Thursday and will remain effective till 7 am on May 1.
In the cabinet meeting this week, several ministers demanded a total lockdown for 15 days to curb the rising COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, the state worst hit by the pandemic in the country.
But Chief MinisterUddhav Thackeray decided against imposing a total shutdown, apparently after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the nation where he said a lockdown should be the 'last resort'.
Now, with the new curbs the government has decided to reduce presence of people on the streets and in public transport.
According to an order issued by Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, government offices - central, state and local authorities - will work with 15 per cent attendance except those in emergency services directly connected to management of the pandemic.
Other offices, allowed to operate as per the existing rules, will function with 15 per cent strength or five people, whichever is more, stated the order.
Only government personnel and those in emergency services would be allowed to use suburban trains, metro and mono services in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, it said.
All those engaged in medical services - doctors, nurses, paramedics, lab technicians and clinical staff - will be issued travel passes on basis of identity cards.
However, patients needing medical treatment and specially-abled persons can travel in trains, the order said.
Municipal and state transport buses will operate at 50 per cent capacity with no standing passengers.
Marriage ceremonies have to be conducted as a single event in a single hall not extending beyond two hours with maximum of 25 person in attendance, the order said, adding violation will attract a fine of Rs 50,000.
For inter-city and inter-district travel bylong- distance trains and buses, the local Railways/state transport authorities will ensure screening of passengers, the order said.
Passengers of private buses (who are allowed to travel) will have to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days after they reach their destination. Bus operators will have to stamp the passengers' hands to indicate they are supposed to stay at home for 14 days.
On Thursday, police vans made rounds of the main streets in Mumbai asking people on the loudspeaker to stay home and avoid crowding.
Police have put up barricades at the entry and exit gates of suburban railway stations to prevent unauthorised people from travelling in local trains.
Police personnel manned the streets to check motorists and cars for the yellow, green and red stickers which are to be used for specific purpose while moving around during the period of restrictions.
On Thursday, Maharashtra reported 67,013 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the tally to 40,94,840, while 568 more patients succumbed to the infection, said a health department official. PTI MR RSY RSY