Maharashtra, the state with more than 62,000 of the country's 1.8 lakh coronavirus cases, has drawn up a detailed plan for easing of restrictions that would begin on June 3 and would unfold in three phases till June 8. Beyond June 8, the government will decide the way forward depending on the ground situation. The "Mission Begin Again", as the government dubbed it, gave guidelines that start with morning exercises and continue till night curfew.
The government, however, made it clear that these rules will operate only in non-containment zones, which have minimum cases of coronavirus.
The blueprint was announced a day after the Centre announced lockdown5 -- which will operate mainly in containment areas till the end of June. For the rest, the Centre has left room for considerable relaxation, to be allowed at the discretion of the state governments.
"We need to tread cautiously as we begin our lives in a new way," Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray later said. State minister Aditya Thackeray, the son of Uddhav Thackeray, tweeted:
From today, we have started our phase of a staggered, careful, measured "Begin Again".— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) May 31, 2020
While we do that, we must always remain aware of the global pandemic, the danger it poses to human life and take enough precautions.
As humans we won't give up and we won't give in to Corona.
Under the new guidelines, the Maharashtra government has allowed outdoor activities like cycling, jogging, walking and running in public areas in the neighbourhood. "People are actively encouraged to use cycling as a form of physical exercise as it automatically ensures social distancing," the order read.
Self-employed people like plumbers, electricians, technicians, pest control and others will be allowed to ply their trade.
All government offices will be able to function with 15 per cent strength, the order said as part of the phase 1 of the "Mission Begin Again" which comes into effect on June 3.
Starting June 5, standalone markets and shops will be permitted to open on odd-even basis. Taxis, rickshaws and cab aggregators will be permitted to ply with two passengers instead of one.
The third phase, which comes into effect on June 8, will allow the opening of private offices with 10 per cent strength.
For now, only travel within any district will be allowed, with the buses operating on 50 percent capacity to ensure social distancing.
The state government has also retained the bar on religious places, schools and other educational institutes, metro rail service, local trains, cinema halls, gyms, malls and market complexes, beauty salons and restaurants.
The Chief Minister has made it clear that Maharashtra will take very careful steps wile emerging from the lockdown, to prevent any setback. The state's coronavirus graph is yet to plateau and is far from a downward trend.
Yesterday evening, Mr Thackeray and Sharad Pawar, the chief of ally Nationalist Congress Party, had a 40-minute meeting to chalk out a roadmap for lifting the lockdown. Mr Pawar has repeatedly advocated allowing economic activities in the state albeit in a cautious manner.