Maharashtra imposes new rules: No gathering of more than 5 in the night; cinemas, restaurants to shut by 8 pm

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The Maharashtra government on Saturday issued new rules, restrictions and guidelines, including increasing the fine for not wearing a mask from Rs 200 to Rs 500, in order to curb the spread of virus in the state. The new rules disallow the gathering of more than five people from 8 pm to 7 am and also call for  gardens and beaches, cinema halls, malls, auditoriums and restaurants to be shut down by 8 pm. These new restrictions will remain in force till April 15.

The new set of rules, which will kick in from 8 pm on Sunday, were released a day after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with district collectors and municipal commissioners to review the Covid-19 situation in the state.

Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Commissioner has ordered closure of shops and establishments every Saturday and Sunday. (Express Photo: Deepak Joshi)

Chief Secertary Sitaram Kunte issued an order stating that gathering of more than five people will not be allowed from 8 pm to 7 am, effective Sunday. The order said that all public places, including gardens and beaches, will remain closed from 8 pm to 7 am from Sunday. “Violation of the same will attract a penalty of Rs 1,000 per head on the offenders,” said the order.

The curbs on the gathering of people will have an impact on the celebration of Holi on Sunday, along with other festivals and cultural events such as Good Friday (April 2), Easter Sunday (April 4), Gudi Padwa (Marathi new year on April 13), and birth anniversaries of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (March 31), Mahatma Phule (April 11) and Babasaheb Ambedkar (April 14).

The order further said that all cinema halls (single screens and multiplexes), malls, auditoriums and restaurants will remain closed from 8 pm to 7 am from Sunday. “Home delivery and take away from restaurants will be allowed during the said time,” it added.

Shops and establishments remain closed in Kalyan-Dombivali MC area on Saturday and Sunday. (Express Photo: Deepak Joshi)

After the Bombay High Court on Wednesday sought to know from the state government why there can’t be an uniform fine for not wearing masks across Maharashtra, the government has also brought parity in the fine amount, for not wearing masks, across the state.

“Any person found to be without mask shall be fined an amount Rs 500,” stated the order. It essentially means that the fine amount in Mumbai has been increased from Rs 200 to Rs 500. The order further said that any person found spitting in public places will be fined an amount of Rs 1,000.

Swab testing by health workers at Juhu beach in Mumbai on Saturday. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty) 

The order reiterated that any violation of this order or restrictions introduced in the last month on operating cinema halls, hotels and restaurants with 50 per cent capacity will lead to their closure till the pandemic ends, and will also attract penalties under the Diaster Management Act for the owner of premises.

The government has also put restrictions on people visiting government offices and religious places. In the case of government offices, it has allowed entry only for elected representatives, and visitors who have urgent work.

The order also said the management trusts of all religious places have to decide and declare the maximum number of visitors per hour depending upon the availability of space for movement and gathering with proper social distancing. “It is advised that convenient systems like online reservations for visitors may be initiated,” stated the order, adding that no one should be allowed without a mask, and temperature measuring devices and adequate hand sanitizers should be used.

The state has also given powers to district collectors and municipal commissioners, considering the local conditions, to enforce certain measures and necessary restrictions in specified local areas.

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