- Maharashtra Minister had announced 5 levels of unlocking
- The Chief Minister's office clarified no decision had been taken
- BJP's Devendra Fadnavis mocked the government's flip-flop
Just after announcing a five-level unlock plan on Thursday, the Maharashtra government clarified that new rules to phase out Covid restrictions in place since mid-April are "still under consideration". This time, no timeline has been specified for the new plan.
Last evening, Maharashtra Relief and Rehabilitation minister Vijay Waddettiwar announced that five levels of unlocking the state had been decided on the basis of positivity rate and total oxygen beds occupancy. Level 1, for example, would mean that the lockdown can be lifted completely. Level 5 is the Red Zone, meaning a complete lockdown, he explained.
Mr Waddettiwar, who briefed the media after a meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, also said 18 districts had been listed for Level 1, including Thane.
India's financial capital Mumbai, which suffered the worst of the ferocious second surge of Covid at one point, was marked Level 2. Local trains, the city's lifeline, would not operate for now, the minister said in statements that were immediately reported across the media as the launch of Maharashtra's unlock.
But soon after the minister made these announcements, a clarification came from the Chief Minister's office that no decision had been taken yet.
Mr Thackeray's office said restrictions in the state "have not been removed" and proposals for new rules are still under consideration.
"We have not completely stopped the corona infection. Infection is still on the rise in some places in rural areas. Considering the deadly and changing form of the coronavirus, it is important to decide whether or not to relax the restrictions. State restrictions have not been lifted," said the state government.
"Break-the-chain has begun to relax some of the restrictions, with the Disaster Management Department deciding on five stages, the weekly positivity rate and the availability of oxygen beds. Detailed guidelines for tightening or relaxing the restrictions in the state on the basis of these criteria will be notified by the government," the statement said.
The government underscored that proposals for relaxing restrictions step-by-step based on criteria were under consideration and "implementation will be considered after full review" by the concerned administrative units of the districts.
The local administration was looking into it and only after that an official decision will be announced, said the Thackeray government.
BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis soon mocked the Maharashtra government's flip-flop.
"What's open and what's closed? Lock or unlock? Immaturity or Credit seeking?" - Mr Fadnavis tweeted.
He also questioned whether people should believe a press conference or a press note.