Coronavirus | Curbs to stay in ‘red zone’ districts in Maharashtra

Easing of lockdown post June 1 except in 14 districts with rising cases: Minister

Updated - May 24, 2021 08:06 pm IST

Published - May 24, 2021 08:04 pm IST - Pune

A barber wearing protective gear giving a haircut to a child, seated near a man dressed as a comic character, in a slum as in Mumbai on May 24.

A barber wearing protective gear giving a haircut to a child, seated near a man dressed as a comic character, in a slum as in Mumbai on May 24.

While the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government has hinted at easing lockdown restrictions across the State after June 1, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar on Monday stressed that the curbs were likely to remain in place in 14 districts which had yet to show a significant decline in COVID-19 cases.

Mr. Wadettiwar also said the local train services in Mumbai were unlikely to be open to the public after June 1.

“The number of active cases is declining and there are demands for the government to ease the lockdown. We too are of the opinion that restrictions ought to be lifted with the exception of districts that are currently in the ‘red zone’… The decision of whether to lift curbs in these afflicted areas will be made depending on how the situation develops there over the next seven-eight days,” said Mr. Wadettiwar.

If the situation did not improve in the 14 most-afflicted districts, then stringent regulation would continue to apply, the Minister said.

High positivity rates

The positivity rate is these districts which include Satara, Kolhapur, Sangli, Ahmednagar, Amravati, Akola, Osmanabad, Hingoli, Sindhudurg, Raigad among others is more than 15%, with the daily case and fatality rise particularly high in Satara (with a case positivity rate of 17%), Sangli (21%), Kolhapur and Osmanabad (both 20%) among these.

Mr. Wadettiwar further said the government was not considering opening up the Mumbai local services to the general public for the next 15 day at least.

“While it is true that cases in Mumbai have declined, it will not take much time for infections to spread once we open up the local trains given the inevitable crowding. So, the Mumbai local for the time being will continue to be restricted for the essential service staff only,” he said.

Plea from traders

Meanwhile, traders’ associations in Pune and Mumbai have written to the Chief Minister urging him to permit the re-opening of shops from June 1 as lakhs of traders had incurred unsustainable losses in the lockdown period.

“For two months now, businessmen and traders, especially the smaller ones have suffered unprecedented losses. Such lockdowns have put many small traders out of business. Nobody is giving us any package. Hence, we have written to the Chief Minister demanding that smaller traders too be given compensatory packages,” said Fatehchand Ranka, president, Federation of Trade Association of Pune (FTAP).

Noting that small traders across Maharashtra were in dire straits owing to repeated lockdowns, Mr. Ranka said the government could continue to impose restrictions and prescribe appropriate COVID-19 behaviour in order to break the virus chain, but that shops must be allowed to open for business.

Viren Shah, president of the Federation of Retail Traders’ Welfare Association, claimed that the lockdown had hit more than 50 lakh retailers and traders while directly affecting the lives of nearly two crore people in the State.

Mr. Shah, who has strongly urged for the reopening of shops in a phased manner after June 1, said more than ten lakh businesses — small traders and retailers — across the State had experienced losses to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees owing to the 55-day lockdown in Maharashtra.

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