Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in India during the pandemic. Mumbai, the prodigy city of the state, is shackled by the COVID-19 restrictions and awaits the freedom it used to relish before 2020. Mumbaikars mostly move around in the local trains, which is rightly called the lifeline of the city. However, amid the pandemic, especially the deadly second wave, these lifelines choked up.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) gave a sign of relief to the locals of Mumbai after it stated that it is planning to ease restrictions for those fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 in the unlocking phase-2. The BMC has put forth its intentions for the local trains after a similar decision was taken for Mumbai airport. The new guidelines stated that fully vaccinated passengers are exempted from carrying negative RT-PCR reports while entering the airport.
The local trains were running on tracks for limited hours before the second wave hit the country. The gates of the stations shut entirely during the second wave. After the second wave started subsiding, demands to open the train service started rising again.
One of the loudest voices of demands was BJP leader Pravin Darekar, who said that the party would initiate a protest if the government doesn’t allow fully vaccinated passengers to use the local train service in Mumbai. BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye demanded a travel allowance of Rs.5000 every month for people from the Uddhav Thackeray-led government if they do not allow people to travel by local trains.
Amidst the pressure, the BMC has hinted at their intentions to ease the restrictions for people who have taken both doses. In addition, BMC also mentioned that RT-PCR testing would also commence in the second phase of the lockdown, as earlier, only Rapid Antigen Tests were being conducted at the stations. However, the final decision lies in the hands of the state government of Maharashtra.
The Mumbai local trains used to carry 7 million people daily before the onslaught of the pandemic, which came down to 3 million during February this year. Mumbai on Wednesday recorded 635 new COVID cases. The total number of cases in Maharashtra has now reached 6.1 million.