With the existing restrictions not getting the desired results on breaking the chain of Covid-19, Maharashtra is set to go for a complete lockdown from Wednesday evening. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is expected to make the announcement on Wednesday.
The ministers have demanded that 15 days of a full lockdown should be imposed.
Thackeray chaired a state cabinet meeting on Tuesday, during which there was a review of the Covid situation and the impact of the existing restrictions.
“All the ministers have requested the CM to announce a complete lockdown in the state from 8 pm tomorrow. The cabinet has taken a decision about the complete lockdown. The CM will make a final announcement,” said Health Minister Rajesh Tope, adding that the guidelines are being chalked out.
NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal said that the 15-day complete lockdown is required to stop the rising cases of Covid and to purchase the required medicines and equipment. A three-member committee headed by the chief secretary has been formed for medicines and equipment, said Bhujbal.
Sources said that the government is likely to impose curbs on public transport, which may be allowed to use only for health and emergency purposes. Other things under consideration are sealing the district borders and reducing staff attendance of government offices, said an official.
Eknath Shinde, Minister for Urban Development, said that a strict lockdown is required as many people are seen wandering on the streets despite the restrictions. “Despite the existing restrictions, the number of cases isn’t going down. There is a shortage of oxygen and beds. So, there is no alternative to strict lockdown to break the chain of coronavirus immediately,” said Shinde.
Earlier in the day, the state government issued a new order restricting the timings of essential shops such as grocery, vegetable, dairies, bakeries and all types of food shops to four hours, from 7 am to 11 am, across the state with immediate effect. However, the government has allowed home delivery from these shops between 7 am to 8 pm.
The new order issued by Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte said that all groceries, vegetable shops, fruit vendors, dairies, bakeries, confectionaries, all type of food shops (including chicken, mutton, poultry, fish and eggs), shops related to agricultural implements and farm produce, pet food shops, shops related to materials for impending rainy season for individuals as well as for organisations to be open only between 7 am to 11 am.
“Home delivery from the said shops however may be allowed between 7 am to 8 pm. These timings however may be changed by the local authority,” said the order.
It further said that that the local authorities may include any additional entities/services as essential only after the consent of the State Disaster Management Authority.