Coronavirus outbreak: Night-time restrictions on movement in Maharashtra from Sunday
Mumbai, Mar 26: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday ordered night "curfew" in entire Maharashtra from March 28 in view of the unabated rise in COVID-19 cases, an official statement said.
However, while the statement in English used the word "curfew", an official statement in Hindi said the chief minister asked officials to impose section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure under which gathering of five or more persons is banned. No clarification could be obtained from officials immediately.
The order will come into effect from the Sunday night. Also, local authorities should ensure that shopping malls remain shut between 8 pm and 7 am, Thackeray ordered after a meeting here. He also warned of stricter restrictions if people did not observe COVID-19 safety protocol, the official release said.
Maharashtra recorded 36,902 COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest one-day rise since the pandemic began. With a fire at a hospital in Mumbai claiming nine lives on Friday, the chief minister also instructed the authorities to check fire safety measures at all temporary hospitals where COVID-19 patients are being treated.
Thackeray reviewed the COVID-19 situation with divisional commissioners, district collectors, superintendents of police and deans of medical colleges. Medical Education Minister Amit Deshmukh was also present for the meeting at the chief minister's official residence Varsha, while Health Minister Rajesh Tope took part through video conference.
"I do not wish to impose lockdown. But there is a possibility that healthcare facilities may fall short given the rise in the number of patients," Thackeray said and asked officials to ensure availability of adequate hospital beds and medicines in each district, according to the statement.
People need to understand that the COVID-19 threat is not over but has grown bigger, the CM said. Lockdown should be imposed in individual districts if needed, but such a step should not be taken suddenly, he said. Officials should check if private establishments are adhering to guidelines on attendance of employees and office timing, Thackeray said.
Maharashtra is number one state in terms of people covered by the vaccination drive, but it should be conducted more effectively, the chief minister said. Members of the state task force on coronavirus should guide district administrations about the new variants of the virus, the CM said.
He also asked the authorities to increase the availability of ventilators, ICUs and oxygen beds, and ramp up the testing further. Deshmukh said the state should demand more vaccines from the Centre. Teachers should be vaccinated before colleges and schools reopen, he added. As mamy as 52 lakh people have been vaccinated in the state so far as per the officials.