'Maharashtra planning more Covid curb relaxations'

Maharashtra govt planning more relaxations in Covid-19 curbs: Official

Thackeray announced that fully vaccinated citizens of Mumbai can travel in local trains from August 15

Beneficiaries wait to receive a dose of COVID-19 vaccine during mass vaccination drive organised by Shiv Sena in association with Reliance hospital, in Mumbai. Credit: PTI Photo

Maharashtra Covid task force on Monday discussed the possibility of granting more relaxations in Covid-19 curbs while observing precautions, an official said, adding the government is identifying new areas and preparing guidelines.

The meeting of the task force, held in the evening, was attended by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, state chief secretary Sitaram Kunte, state Covid task force head Dr Sanjay Oak and other members.

“The Maharashtra government is now preparing new guidelines after receiving various suggestions and instructions from doctors, experts and government departments. The focus of the discussion (in the meeting) was basically on how to introduce further relaxations while observing precautions,” said a state government official, who attended the meeting.

He said the government is listing down new areas where more relaxation can be introduced. The task force also discussed issues related to tackling of a projected third wave of the pandemic, requirement of medical oxygen, increasing the pace of vaccination, effective implementation of tracing and tracking among others, he said. The state government had excluded malls, cinema halls, theatres, religious places and religious gatherings from the purview of the relaxations introduced last Monday.

The government had allowed shops to function till 8 pm in 25 districts excluding 11 districts where level-3 restrictions continue to remain in force due to a higher Covid-19 positivity rate. Restaurant owners, malls and other establishments are demanding that the government extend the current timings. Artists also demanded that theatres be allowed to function with restrictions.

The government is also under pressure to open religious places. CM Thackeray on Sunday announced that fully vaccinated citizens of Mumbai can travel in local trains from August 15, but a gap of 14 days from the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is necessary to avail of the facility. Speaking in a live webcast, he had also said that his government was considering granting relaxations to shops, malls, restaurants and places of religious worship, and a decision would be taken following a meeting of the coronavirus task force on Monday.

Thackeray had also said that the Covid-19 situation in Pune, Ahmednagar, Solapur, Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, and Beed districts was a cause of concern. Maharashtra on Monday reported 4,505 new coronavirus positive cases and 68 fatalities, taking the tally of infections to 63,57,833 and the toll to 1,34,064, the state health department said.

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