Week-long Lockdown in Amravati, Night Curfew in Nashik, Pune as Maha Sees 6,971 New Cases in 24 Hrs

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Amid sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, Amravati district in Vidarbha region will be placed under a week-long lockdown from 8 pm from Monday. The lockdown will be in force till 8 am on March 1, minister Yashomati Thakur said. Some reports stated that Nashik too has imposed night curfew from 11pm to 5am till Tuesday.

Apart from the week-long lockdown in Amravati, certain restrictions will be in place in four other districts of Amravati division -- Akola, Washim, Buldhana and Yavatmal -- with a view to curb the spread of the virus, an official said. Thakur, who is the district guardian minister of Amravati, on Sunday reviewed the coronavirus situation.

She said that the week-long lockdown in Amravati was essential to control the recent spike in cases. "During the lockdown, all shops, except those dealing in essential commodities, will remain shut along with the government and private educational institutions, private coaching classes, training schools. People can buy items of daily need from 9 am to 5 pm," the minister said.

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Cinema houses, gyms, swimming pools, parks will remain shut and gatherings for entertainment, educational, cultural, religious purposes etc will not be permitted, she added. The number of beds for Covid-19 treatment will be increased from 1,400 to 1,600 in the city and strict restrictions will be enforced in nine containment zones declared by the Amravati civic body, Thakur said.

She said that industries that have been given permission earlier will continue operations, while government offices and banks will work with 15 per cent staff or a minimum of 15 persons. "Hotels and restaurants will sell only parcels while goods transport will continue unrestricted during the February 22-March 1 lockdown," she said.

According to the official, the district has reported 7,470 COVID-19 cases and 43 deaths since February 1, including a record single-day addition of 727 cases on Saturday. The tally rose by 709 cases on Sunday, after which Divisional Commissioner Piyush Singh announced certain restrictions in Amravati, Akola, Washim, Buldhana and Yavatmal, he said.

The restrictions in other districts of the division will be for 36 hours, barring Amravati and Achalpur, Divisional Commissioner Singh said. District Collector Shailesh Naval said that educational offices, non-teaching staff, research staff and scientists will be permitted for e-information, evaluation of answer sheets and result declaration work only.

Restrictions on number of passengers in different types of vehicles have been put in place, while inter-district bus transport will operate at 50 per cent capacity, that too with passengers compulsorily maintaining social distancing and wearing masks, he said. "All concessions given under the 'Mission Begin Again' stand cancelled till 8 am of March 1," Naval said.

Curfew in Pune

The Pune district administration has decided to enforce certain curbs, including restriction on movement of people from 11 pm to 6 am for non-essential activities, a senior official said. Schools, colleges and private coaching classes will remain closed till February 28, while hotels and restaurants will have to shut their establishments by 11 pm every day, Pune divisional commissioner Saurabh Rao told reporters.

Creation of micro-containment zones, re-setting up of COVID-19 care centres, increased contact-tracing and testing, and stricter implementation of norms for weddings and other social events are some of the steps which will be taken to stem the spread of the viral infection, he said. The decision to bring back some restrictions was taken in a meeting chaired by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is also the guardian minister of Pune, on Sunday, he said.

On Saturday, the Pune division reported 998 new cases of coronavirus and nine deaths due to the viral infection. The COVID-19 tally in the division stood at 5,14,319 and the death toll at 11,698, as per official figures. Rao said for the last three months, the situation in the district was under control. But, now in view of the rise in COVID-19 cases, some decisions have been taken.

There will be restrictions on the movement of people for non-essential activities between 11 pm and 6 am from Monday, he said. "Essential activities like newspaper distribution, milk and vegetable supply, and hospital emergencies have been excluded from the curbs," he said.

Hotels, bars and restaurants will have to close down by 11 pm from Monday onwards, he said. "The decision has been taken as a precaution to control the movement of people who are roaming around unnecessarily," he said.

Rao said as far as the positivity rate is concerned, Pune district is at 12thposition in the state. "The average positivity rate in the district has now reached 10 per cent. Fifteen days ago, it was 4 to 5 per cent and now there is a need to revamp the standard operating procedures in the district," he said.

As a precautionary measure, schools and colleges in the district will remain closed till February 28. A review will be done on Friday and according to the situation, next strategy will be decided, Rao said.

Private coachings and classes where physical interaction is done will also remain closed till February 28, he informed. "However, establishments like study centres where preparations for civil services examinations are conducted will operate with 50 per cent capacity," the official said.

Rao said there will be some restrictions on weddings and other social and political events. At a social gathering, a limit of 200 people was allowed, but over a period, as the situation became normal, violations were seen, he said.