With the reduction in the number of Covid-19 cases and a recovery rate of 85 per cent, the Maharashtra government, on Wednesday, under its MIssion Begin Again plan, announced further unlocking of activities.
Metro services in Mumbai and Nagpur will be allowed to operate with effect from October 19, in a graded manner. Standard operating procedures for the same will be issued by the urban development department, which will take into consideration the SOP issued by the ministry of housing and urban affairs.
Mumbai Metro tweeted that it would start operations from 8.30am on October 19. On the other hand, Nagpur Metro said it was ready to operate services on its 25km-route but would announce the date for resumption of operations only after receiving the SOP.
Interestingly, the guidelines were silent on the full-scale resumption of Mumbai suburban services. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday had clarified that the government was in no hurry to do so but was focusing on increasing the frequency of trains.
Despite Governor BS Koshyari’s free-wheeling missive to CM Thackeray and the BJP’s state-wide agitation clamouring for the reopening of temples, the MVA government has not allowed the reopening of places of worship in the state. Thackeray had shot back a reply to Koshyari that he needed no certificate for his Hindutva, and has stood his ground on the matter. Thackeray has thereby reiterated that for him, the safety of people is paramount, for which he is prepared to take on the governor or even the opposition.
Further, with an objective to control/reduce crowding, markets/shops will be permitted to remain open for an additional two hours and can function from 9am to 9 pm in areas outside containment zones only, with effect from October 15. Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association President Viren Shah has said this will result in a 20 per cent increase in business, from the present 30 per cent.
However, schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions will continue to be closed until October 31.
Gardens, parks and open public spaces for recreational purposes will continue to be open. Local weekly bazaars, including those of animals, will be permitted to open in areas outside the containment zones only, with effect from October 15. The SOP for the same will be issued by the concerned rural/urban local bodies and pandemic protocols shall be followed strictly.
Similarly, all government and private libraries will be allowed to function, following protocols of social distancing and sanitation, from October 15. The SOP will be issued by the department of higher and technical education.
Business to Business exhibitions will be permitted to open in areas outside containment zones only, from October 15. The SOP for the same will be issued by the department of industries, which will take into account the SOP issued by the department of commerce.
Marriages, other family functions and related gatherings with not more than 50 guests are allowed and funeral gatherings may not exceed 20 people.
Permission will be granted for up to 50 per cent teaching and non-teaching staff to be called to schools at a time for online teaching/tele-counselling and related work in areas outside the containment zones only, from October 15. The SOP will be issued by the department of school education, which will take into consideration the SOP issued by the ministry of health and ministry of education.
Skill or entrepreneurship training will be permitted in national skill training institutes, ITIs, short-term training centres registered with the National Skill Development Corporation or State Skill Development Missions or other Government of India or state government ministries.
The National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development, the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship and their training providers can be operational from October 15. The SOP issued by the ministry of health will be followed.
In higher education institutions, online/distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged. However, higher education institutions only for research scholars, (PhDs) and laboratory/experiment work for post-graduate students in science and technology will be permitted from October 15.
For centrally funded higher educational institutions, the head of the institutions will satisfy herself/himself that there is a genuine requirement of research scholars (PhD) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream for laboratory/experimental works.
For all other higher education institutions, including state universities, private universities, they may open only for research scholars (PhD) and post graduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/experimental works.
These will be permitted by the department of higher education in consultation with the ministry of home affairs, based on the assessment of the situation and keeping in view the incidence of Covid-19 in the districts. The SOP will be issued by the department of higher and technical education.
Further, domestic passengers arriving at different airports shall be checked for Covid-19 symptoms. Stamping with indelible ink shall be immediately done away with.
The health check-up and stamping of the passengers at the railway stations arriving by trains in the state too will be dispensed with. However, these passengers are expected to follow all the Covid-19 protocols of social distancing and sanitation.