Maharashtra needs to be more careful than other states regarding the new Covid variant Omicron as it was "hit first and hit the hardest" last time, state minister Aaditya Thackeray told NDTV amid friction with the Centre over the guidelines at airports. The state has revised its guidelines, which the Centre wanted in sync with the national rules. But Mr Thackeray, who is also the son of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, made it clear that Maharashtra's rules will still be different from the Centre's version as "People's safety is top priority".
Refusing to divulge details before the formal announcement, Mr Thackeray pointed out that Maharashtra has a big floating population.
"We have to do certain things in a stricter fashion because if you see the last time also --- we were hit first, we were hit the hardest and we were always accountable and transparent... so we need to be a little cautious about our state," he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Maharashtra announced a series of restrictions last evening that were to come into effect at midnight, which would have spelled trouble for more than a thousand incoming international passengers who would have boarded their planes without knowing about any change in rules.
Under the rules, those from more than 50 'at risk' nations had to undergo mandatory institutional quarantine of seven days, during which they had to take three RT-PCR tests and pay for all.
International passengers not from "at risk" nations had to take RT-PCR tests, which they had to pay for. Those with negative reports could leave the airport but had to undergo home quarantine for 14 days.
The state later partially relaxed the restrictions. Aaditya Thackeray said it was necessary since the passengers had no chance to plan their trips or finances.
This morning, the Centre asked the state to "align with orders issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare".