Maharashtra, one of the states worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, has decided not to pass on most of the relaxations allowed by the central government as far as the Coronavirus lockdown 5.0 is concerned.
Key among the relaxations that WILL NOT not be allowed in Maharashtra are the opening of religious places of worship, malls, spas and saloons, hotels and restaurants, inter-district bus services, train services and flights.
All the above activities are permitted under Government of India rules as part of ‘Unlock 1.0’, also known as ‘Lockdown 5.0’.
Under center’s Lockdown 5.0 guidelines, only a handful of activities continue to remain prohibited — including large assemblies, cinema theaters, swimming pools, health clubs, international flights and metro train services. Almost everything else is allowed, including the operation of places of worship.
However, given the sticky situation in Maharashtra — which accounts for nearly a third of the detected cases of COVID-19 in India — the state has decided to continue to keep most of these newly allowed activities in the ‘not permitted’ list.
It should be noted that in such matters, if a state bans a particular activity, it will remain banned, even if the center permits it.
Maharashtra’s rules will be in effect till June end.
However, the government has said that it may relax some of these restrictions in between.
LOCKDOWN 5.0 – ALLOWED ACTIVITIES
Some of the activities that will be allowed in Maharahstra are individual sports items without spectators if held in an outdoor stadium or grounds. Social distancing norms have to be adhered to. The new rules say that group events are not allowed, making it unclear if cricket matches can be played.
Technically, this should allow sports events like tennis matches.
Football, volleyball, basketball and so on cannot be played, as social distancing cannot always be maintained with these forms of sports.
Autorickshaws and taxis will be allowed with a maximum of two passengers, but only for essential purposes.
Buses will be allowed to ply within the district, but with half the seats kept empty. Even though inter-district (one district to another) bus services are not allowed, the government is likely to publish some relaxations for Mumbai and adjoining districts.
Similarly, train travel is not allowed, but the government will allow the operation of special Shramik trains for the movement of stranded workers back to their hometowns.
Non-essential shops too will be allowed to be open from 9 AM to 5 PM, but shops will be allowed to open only on one side of the road on any given day. The shops on the other side of the road will be allowed to open the next day.
“All markets/shops will remain open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If any crowding or failure of social distancing norms is seen, then authorities will immediately close down such shops/markets,” the government said.
Here again, malls and shopping complexes are not allowed to open.
“The shopkeepers will be responsible for ensuring social distancing norms in the shops and are encouraged to take measures such as foot markings on the floor, token system, home delivery etc,” Maharashtra government said.
“People are advised to walk / to use cycles for shopping purposes and to use nearby/neighborhood markets as far as possible. Long distance travel for nonessential items will not be permitted. Use of motorized vehicles for shopping will be strictly discouraged.
“If any failure of social distancing is seen, then authorities will immediately close down such shops/markets,” it added.
From June 8, Maharashra will allow all private offices to operate with up to 10% strength, with the remaining persons working from home.
“However all the employers will take sensitisation programs to educate the employees to take adequate precautions on returning home so that vulnerable group especially the elderly is not infected,” it said.
With the new guidelines, it has become difficult for many airlines, and for the Indian Railways, to operate some of their long-distance routes, such as Mumbai-Delhi, Bangalore-Mumbai and so on.
Other states too are likely to come up with their versions of Lockdown 5.0 rules soon.
Several states had opposed any sudden relaxation in the restrictions, particularly things like long-distance train travel, which have the potential to spread the virus to the nook and cranny of the country from hospots such as Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai.