Amid reports that the Maharashtra government planned to withdraw the lockdown relaxations in the state, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday made it clear that no such decision has been taken.
Stating that some media reports were creating confusion in the minds of people, he said the government was easing the lockdown restrictions in phases to restart the economy.
"Some television news channels and social media platforms are speaking about lockdown being reimposed and closure of all shops. But the government has not taken any such decision," Thackeray said in a statement.
"Such news creates confusion among the people and it should not be telecast without verification. Forwarding such posts and telecasting news that create misunderstanding and spread rumours, is a crime," he said.
"We are easing lockdown restrictions in phases to restart the economy. But lifting of restrictions does not mean unnecessary crowding and violating discipline of physical distancing and hygiene," he said.
On May 31, a day after the Centre announced significant relaxations under "Unlock 1", the Maharashtra government had extended the lockdown till June 30, but announced a slew of relaxations and phase-wise resumption of activities under the "Mission Begin Again".
All markets, market areas and shops, except malls, were allowed to reopen in the state from June 5 on the odd-even basis in non-containment zones. It also allowed private offices to operate with up to 10 per cent of their employee strength as per the requirement from June 8.
The chief minister also said that wearing face-masks, maintaining physical distance, washing hands regularly should be made part of our lives.
"This is necessary for good health of our own and our loved ones. Self-discipline is must," he said.
The Chief Minister's Office (CMO) took to Twitter to clarify speculations about the lockdown being reimposed. "The lockdown has not been reimposed. CM Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray has appealed to the people to refrain from crowding. He has earnestly requested them to follow the Govt's instructions and take necessary precautions to stay safe and take care," it said in a tweet.
Earlier this week, Thackeray had expressed dismay over the crowding by people after lockdown restrictions were eased. He had said the COVID-19 threat still persists and the lockdown had been eased to ensure economic activity doesn't remain standstill.
"If the situation continues, lockdown will need to be enforced," he had said. He had, however, expressed confidence people would abide by government guidelines. Maharashtra has so far reported 97,648 COVID-19 positive cases and 3,590 deaths.