The Maharashtra Government on Thursday extended the lockdown, which was in place till October 31, until the midnight of November 30.
Interestingly, the order issued by Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar is silent on the reopening of places of worship, resumption of full-scale Mumbai suburban train services and the restarting of cinema theatres and multiplexes in the state. Kumar released the order after the state cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
CM Thackeray has not been in favour of reopening places of worship, citing the prevalence of the virus. On the subject of increased train services to accommodate additional passengers, the government and the railways have yet to arrive at a consensus. In the case of reopening cinema theatres and multiplexes, the protocol has been finalised but the government is yet to take a 'curtain' call.
According to the order, the guidelines issued earlier to operationalise MissionBeginAgain for easing of restrictions and phased opening will remain in force till November 30 for the containment of the pandemic and all government departments shall strictly implement these guidelines. This means hotels, restaurants, food courts, gyms, salons, essential and non-essential shops, e-commerce services will continue to function. Besides, inter- and intra-district transportation, BEST will continue to operate at full capacity.
However, schools and colleges will remain shut till further orders.
The government’s decision not to permit the reopening of places of worship is significant in the face of the threat by some organisations to break open the locks and enter these places. Even more significant is the letter sent by Governor BS Koshyari to CM Thackeray on October 11, expressing serious displeasure and questioning the latter's Hindutva. This had prompted Thackeray to reply: “But I want to ask you whether reopening places of worship means ‘Hindutva’ and not reopening them means a person is ‘secular'?”
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