The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Monday announced that all public gardens, playgrounds, chowpatties and beaches in Mumbai will now remain open from 6 am to 10 pm as part of fresh relaxations in COVID-19 restrictions. Earlier, on June 4 this year, the (BMC) had allowed these places to open for the public from 5 am to 9 am.
Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said that the BMC on Sunday issued fresh guidelines under ‘Break the Chain’ programme, using powers conferred by the Maharashtra government to decide the timings. “Public grounds, gardens, beaches and sea fronts to remain open from 6 am to 10 pm,” Chahal said on Monday.
All other guidelines issued by the state government on August 11 will be effective till the next order, the BMC said. Under the modified ‘Break the Chain’ guidelines issued on August 11, the state government had given powers to local authorities to decide about opening the public gardens, playgrounds and beaches.
Last week, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government eased more curbs in the states as it allowed restaurants and hotels to operate till 10 pm extending their earlier 4 pm deadline. The state government has allowed malls to reopen from August 15, but the relaxations comes with a rider – only those fully vaccinated will be given entry.
Talking to reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said spas and gymnasiums will also be allowed to function till 10 pm at a 50 per cent capacity on the condition that the entire staff at these establishments has taken both doses of the vaccine. Indoor games will be allowed but cinema halls and places of worship will continue to remain shut until further orders, the minister said.
CM Thackeray had on Sunday announced that fully vaccinated citizens in Mumbai can travel in local trains from August 15, but a gap of 14 days from the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine is necessary to avail the facility.
An offline verification procedure for issuing monthly passes to fully inoculated people to enable them to board local trains has already begun at 53 suburban stations in Mumbai.
“Citizens need to show their vaccination certificates before entering malls,” Tope said, adding that the onus will lie on mall owners, and they will be liable for action in case norms are violated.
Speaking to the media after the cabinet meeting, Tope said the state will further relax the Covid restrictions from August 15.
The number of attendees at wedding functions has been capped at 200 but only if the function is being held in the open, Tope was quoted as saying by NDTV. For indoor venues, guests up to 50 per cent of the capacity will be allowed, he said.
Hotels and restaurants have been allowed to operate but with only 50 per cent capacity and with all necessary Covid precautions in place.
Maharashtra has also allowed government and private offices to open with full capacity. Private offices can operate 24×7 if staggered timings are followed.
Shops can operate till 10 pm; their earlier deadline was 4 pm.
Temples, theatres, multiplexes will stay shut till further orders.
The state task force on COVID-19 is not in favour of opening schools and colleges from August 17. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is scheduled to meet members of the task force soon to take a final decision.
The task force had suggested granting more relaxations in restrictions while observing precautions after a meeting on Monday. The state government is now preparing new guidelines after receiving various suggestions and instructions from doctors, experts and government departments.
The state government had excluded malls, cinema halls, theatres, religious places and religious gatherings from the purview of relaxations introduced last week.
The government had allowed shops to function till 8 pm in 25 districts, while excluding 11 districts where level-3 restrictions continue to remain in force due to a higher COVID-19 positivity rate. Restaurant owners, malls and other establishments had been demanding that the government extend the current timings. Various artists have also demanded that theatres be allowed to function with restrictions. The government is also under pressure to open religious places.