Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday announced a Complete “mini lockdown” in the State for 15 days from 8 p.m. on Wednesday. According to the guidelines announced by the State government, Section 144 would be imposed for 15 days and no one would be allowed to move in public places without valid reason.
All establishments, public places, activities and services would remain closed. Only services and activities mentioned under ‘essential category’ would be exempted. The government also announced a financial package of ₹5,400 crore to help individuals who will be directly affected by the restrictions and closure of business.
“I am not happy while announcing these restrictions. I have been warning for the past one month and now is the time to take actions to break the chain. The only aim is to save lives. We can revive the economy if we survive,” Mr. Thackeray said in his address on Tuesday. Mr. Thackeray said that he was aware of the hardships faced by the poor due to such restrictions and that the State government had decided to take steps to provide relief.
“Seven crore beneficiaries under the food security scheme will get 3 kg of wheat and 2 kg of rice each free for one month. The Shiv Bhojan thali will be provided free. Around 35 lakh beneficiaries in a total of five welfare schemes will get ₹1,000 a person every month for the next two months,” he said. The government will also provide ₹1,500 to each of the 12 lakh registered construction workers and 5 lakh registered hawkers.
Tribal families will be paid ₹2,000 each under the Khavti scheme. Also, ₹3,300 crore is being provided for district-level schemes in the fight against the pandemic. Highlighting the State’s need of oxygen for patients, Mr. Thackeray said he had requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow transportation of oxygen by the Air Force to ensure its speedy delivery to Maharashtra from far-off places. “Considering the financial burden, I have also sought exemption from State GST contribution for three months,” he said.
The essential category includes health services, veterinary services, groceries and vegetables shops, fruit vendors, dairies, bakeries, confectioneries, cold storage facilities, offices of diplomats of various countries, banks and financial services, agriculture-related activities, export-import activities, e-commerce, accredited media, IT services, ATMs, gas supply, port activities and customs-related activities. Mr. Thackeray said there would be no restrictions on public transport as it was important for those working in essential services to travel.
The principle of “essential for essential is essential” would be followed during the curbs. Buses will run on seating capacity only. Persons arriving or departing by bus, train or flight from or towards their place of residence were allowed to travel on showing a valid ticket. Work is to be allowed in the exempted category from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, including in offices of Central, State and civic bodies, private banks and PSUs, insurance and Mediclaim offices, pharmaceutical company offices, offices of advocates, etc.
The offices can work only with 50% capacity. Private vehicles can run on the roads only for emergency services. Private buses can play with only seating capacity. All restaurants, hotels and bars are to remain closed and allowed only parcel service. Manufacturing units for essential services can run on full capacity.