Amid an alarming upsurge in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said lockdown is an option but he trusts people to follow the norms on their own. Thackeray, who was in Nandurbar, also appealed people to get vaccinated against the virus without fear. Maharashtra witnessed the highest one-day spike of 25,833 COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
The COVID-19 situation has become grimmer as the number of new cases on Thursday crossed the earlier highest rise which was recorded in September, he conceded. “I see lockdown as an option going ahead. But I trust people of the state to cooperate (and follow the COVID-19 norms voluntarily) like the last time,” he said.
When the pandemic began last year, there was nothing to fight the virus with, Thackeray said. “But now at least we have vaccines as a shield. The priority now is to ensure that everyone is vaccinated. People should come forward to take the vaccine,” he said.
The Union government has assured that there would be no shortage of vaccines, he said. There have been a few instances where a person caught infection after vaccination, but such cases are not “life- threatening”, the chief minister said. “Everyone should get vaccinated without fear,” he added.
“Rules should be followed so that there are no new cases of infection. But if the rules aren’t followed, strict measures will be taken in near future,” said Thackeray.
The Maharashtra government on Friday imposed restrictions on drama theatres and auditoriums in the state, asking them to operate only at 50 per cent of their capacity till March 31. Similarly, private offices, except those related to health and other essential services, will be allowed to function only at 50 per cent of their capacity, a government notification issued on Friday said.
In case of government and semi-government offices, the head of the office will take a decision regarding the staff attendance and ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
As per the notification, drama halls and auditoriums will not be used for religious, political, cultural and social gatherings. If the order is violated, the drama theatres and auditoriums concerned will have to remain closed for a period until the COVID-19 pandemic stays notified as a disaster by the central government, it said.
On March 15, the state government had notified that cinema halls, hotels, restaurants and offices, except those related to health and essential services, will function at 50 per cent of their capacity. But Friday’s order has included drama theatres and auditoriums as well.
The order, however, allowed the manufacturing sector to function at full capacity but advised that the workforce be reduced to ensure adequate social distancing on the production floor.
For the purpose of maintaining social distancing, manufacturing units may be allowed to increase working shifts as approved by local authorities. No entry will be allowed without proper wearing of masks, temperature measuring devices to be used to ensure no one with fever gets an entry, it said.
In Nanded, the district administration on Thursday announced that all places of worship will remain shut till March 31, a district official said. Issuing fresh orders to contain the spread of infections, the administration has directed that shops will be allowed to operate from 7 am to 5 pm, expect for those engaged in essential services, the official said.
Meanwhile, the neighbouring Madhya Pradesh government on Thursday announced a ban on movement of passenger buses to and from Mahrarashtra from March 20 in view of the alarming rise in coronavirus cases.