Maharashtra has announced a five-step unlock plan from Monday. Under the new guidelines, the state's districts will be divided into five levels – based on weekly positivity rate and oxygen bed occupancies.
The administrative units classified are Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Nashik, Pimpri Chinchwad, Aurangabad, Vasai-Virar, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Sholapur and Kalyan-Dombivali. Remaining area of each of the 34 districts (other than Mumbai city and Mumbai suburban district), shall form a single separate administrative unit, the order read.
Q. Definition of ‘Regular’.
A. The term ‘Regular’ refers to normal functioning of concerned agencies, bodies or establishments. Operations shall continue as decided by concerned authorities for normal times, under various acts/ rules/ by laws. Needless to say Covid Appropriate Behaviour is to be observed all the times.
Q. What do the new rules entail for schools, colleges and educational institutions? What do they say about conducting examinations, places of worships, private coaching classes, skilling centres, sports tournaments, hotels, religious. social, political and entertainment gatherings?
A. As a general principle, issues/ items/ activities that are not included in the table under section III (check images below) of the order shall continue to be under same restrictions that existed as on June 4. For any niche activity, for which SOMA order is silent, DDMA may promulgate guiding regulations.
Q. Some administrative units have positivity rate falling in one level while oxygen beds occupancy falling in another level. Which takes precedence?
A. Both the indicators are crucial for the determination of the level. For level I and 2, it is clearly mentioned that two criteria are to be taken together (two criteria are joined by ‘AND’) and only if both are satisfied, level I or 2 can be declared. For higher levels of 3, 4 and 5, two criteria are joined by ‘OR ‘and hence even if one of these is true, that level gets attracted.
Q. Which of ‘Daily Positivity Rate’ will be considered for deciding the level in an administrative unit?
A. Weekly average of the Daily Positivity Rates of the administrative unit for the immediate past 7 days shall be considered on each Thursday. Level shall be announced on Friday based on this and oxygen beds occupancy as on Thursday and implemented from every Monday for a week. This is needed to give minimum 48 hours plus notice to all the citizens about the new level. Once declared a level, that will continue to operate for a week at least from Monday to Sunday. This is to give a stability to the social and economic activities.
Q. Is the functioning of NGOs for COVID-related work such as distribution of essential services, vaccination awareness drive, allowed under new rules?
A. The NGOs shall take explicit permissions from the local DDMA.
Q. Who will decide the level for the administrative units for a particular week?
A. The level will be declared by DDMA as an authority, for each administrative unit under its jurisdiction.
Q. Should housing societies mandate RT-PCR/ RAT test for domestic helps?
A. It has been clarified before and is further stressed that as a general principle these tests are not to be made mandatory, periodically, unless specifically directed under an order as these overwhelm the already stretched diagnostic resources and sometimes cause delays for reporting for more serious cases. All symptomatic cases, however, must always be tested before admission into any establishment/ society and all visitors should be subjected to thermal scan.
Q. What about the restaurants inside the malls? If a level indicates closure for the restaurants (like level 3) but allows parcels/ take aways, whether these restaurants can be kept open?
A. For a restaurants inside a mall (or say integrated with multiplex) guidelines for both – mall’s operations as well as restaurants’ operations – must be followed. And thus, if either is closed, restaurant shall remain closed.
Q. Can a DDMA decide to have restrictions more stringent to the level that is assigning as per the order?
A. Under section VI. DDMA have been given authority to decide modifications to the restrictions as per the table with prior permission of SDMA. It is, however, expected that this authority should be judiciously used. For example, if a DDMA considers that their parameters are just below borderline or have a disturbing trend/ fluctuations and thus they need to be more vigilant and must not relax to lower level fully, they may. along-with declaring the levels as per principles in the order (there should be no discretion here) may propose to impose stricter restrictions (somewhere in between the two levels) and with prior approval of SDMA (in writing or in any form of communication) may do so. Finally duty and responsibility to contain Covid 19 on the shoulders of DDMA must be carried out. These levels arc not for the purposes of causing restrictions to functional freedom to fulfil DDMA’s responsibility but to give a framework for rational and manifestly speaking decision making.