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Maharashtra issues guidelines, allows e-commerce, construction in Mumbai

Maharashtra issues guidelines, allows e-commerce, construction in Mumbai

Maharashtra on Tuesday issued revised lockdown guidelines while reclassifying various zones. As per its new classification, areas outside municipal corporations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region are now no longer in the red zone and will see resumption of economic activity.

Similarly areas outside the jurisdiction of the municipal corporations of Pune, Solapur, Aurangabad, Malegaon, Nashik, Dhule, Jalgaon, Akola and Amravati have been excluded from the red zone. Maharashtra, the worst affected state due to Covid-19, has so far seen 35,058 cases and 1249 deaths, with the above mentioned districts accounting for a bulk of the infections.

The development comes after the Union Home Ministry gave states the power to delineate red, green, and orange zones as per the Covid-19 situation in their respective states.

Incidentally, the notification, issued by Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta on Tuesday, does not distinguish between orange and green zones as far as resumption of economic activity is concerned. These areas have been clubbed together as non-red zones. The new relaxations will kick in only on May 22.This means the Uddhav Thackeray-led government has now considerably lifted curbs on economic activity and movement across the state with the exception of the Mumbai, Pune and other municipal corporation areas falling in the red zone.

In Mumbai, other than red zones, while most curbs have been retained, the government has permitted e-commerce operators to deliver non-essential goods.

Last week, at a high-level meeting, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had demanded that district administrations be given 48-hours for crowd management before the revised guidelines come into force.

Unlocking the non-red zones, the state has permitted all markets and shops in these areas to remain open from 9 pm to 5 pm. "The time slot was imposed to ensure crowd management," a senior official said.

Buses will be allowed to ply within the district with 50 per cent capacity, even as Mehta's order said a separate order regarding inter-district travel would be issued later.

All forms of private transport, including two wheelers, three wheelers (rickshaws), and four wheelers, have also been permitted. While only person will be allowed to travel on a bike or a scooter, rickshaws and cars will be permitted to ferry two people besides the driver.

Sports complexes, stadia and other public open spaces will be permitted to remain open for individual exercises but group activities and events involving spectators will not be allowed.

Districts have been specifically directed not to make changes to these guidelines without the Chief Secretary's approval. "The whole idea is to have a uniform exit plan. In the earlier phase of the lockdown, some district Collectors and municipal commissioners had unilaterally taken decisions regarding what to allow and what not to in their areas," the order stated.

With the monsoon season approaching, the government has permitted public and private pre-monsoon works even in the red zones. Construction activity, which has been stalled in the commercial capital due to the lockdown, will also resume with full force. The government had earlier permitted activity on existing projects where workers were available on site.

"All construction sites can now remain open," said an official. While shops, malls, private offices, industries will continue to remain shut in Mumbai and the other red zones, the government has permitted these establishments to open shutters from 9 am to 5 pm during the lockdown for the "purpose of upkeep or maintenance of material, plant and machinery , furniture protection and other pre-monsoon activities."

Officials said even housing societies would be permitted to undertake pre-monsoon works. Taxi and rickshaws will continue to be barred in red zones, while private cars can ferry only two people besides the driver for permitted activities.

Within the red zones, government offices shall continue to work at 5 per cent staff capacity or ten people at the most. The government has also directed all employers to ensure that the Aarogya Setu App is installed by all employees.

"All domestic and international air travel of passengers (except for medical and security purposes), metro rail services, educational institutions, hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality services (except those meant for COVID-19 cases, stranded workers, essential service employees), cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, pools, parks, theatres, mass gatherings, political and sporting events will continue to remain prohibited across the state," an official said.

(Input and image from theindianexpress.com)

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