COVID-19: Uddhav urges PM to open vaccination for people above 25 years; fruit vendors, security services exempted in Maharashtra lockdown rules

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow people above 25 years of age to receive COVID-19 shots, which he said will protect the young people from the rapid spread of coronavirus at a time when they are stepping outside their homes to earn a livelihood.

In a letter to the PM, Thackeray also demanded that Maharashtra be provided 1.5 crore additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which will enable the state government to complete within three weeks the vaccination of the beneficiaries above 45 years of age in six districts, including Mumbai, reporting a large number of cases.

Thackeray also apprised the prime minister of the steps being taken by his government to break the transmission chain of the viral infection, said a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).

Thackeray wrote that the young generation is also getting infected by the virus, and to prevent the spread, people above 25 years be made eligible for vaccination.

The CM stressed the younger people have to travel in public to earn their livelihood.

The CMO said PM Modi had accepted Thackeray’s earlier suggestion to allow people above 45 years of age to get vaccinated.

The chief minister told the PM that his government was transparently handling the pandemic and expanded the vaccination drive, it said.

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OnApril 3, 4.62 lakh people were vaccinated in Maharashtra, where 76.86 lakh people have received the jabs so far.

“The Centre should provide 1.5 crore additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Maharashtra. We will take three weeks to administer the vaccine to age group above 45 years in six districts of Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Nashik, Aurangabad, Nagpur where the spike of cases is the highest,” the letter stated.

Meanwhile, petrol pumps, government and private security services, and fruit vendors among others have been added to the list of essential services being exempted from the ambit of the strict curbs that came into force in Maharashtra from Monday night, as per the revised guidelines.

Besides petrol pumps and petroleum-related products, cargo services, data centres, cloud service providers, IT services supporting critical infrastructure and services will also be considered as essential services in addition to the ones mentioned on Sunday when the restrictions were announced.

The strict curbs, including a curfew from 8 pm till 7 am, and prohibitory orders duringthe daytime on weekdays came into force from Monday in the state.

The state government had on Sunday announced a weekend lockdown and night curfew during the weekdays from Monday to April 30, in addition to a slew of other restrictions like the closure of private offices, theatres and salons to curb the unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases.

The weekend lockdown will start from 8 pm on Fridays and last till 7 am on Mondays.

Besides, prohibitory orders will be in force during the daytime on weekdays.

Meanwhile, organisations like the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), offices of the SEBI recognised market infrastructure institutions like stock exchanges, depositors, clearing corporations and intermediaries registered with the SEBI, will be allowed to remain open on all weekdays from 7 am to 8 pm, the guidelines issued on Monday said.

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However, all the personnel attending these offices will have to get themselves vaccinated at the earliest.

Until vaccinated completely, these staffers will be required to carry an RT-PCR negative report, which will remain valid for 15 days.

This rule will come into effect from April 10.

In the absence of the COVID-19 negative certificate, the offender will be fined Rs 1,000.

Other offices that will be allowed to remain open include RBI regulated entities and intermediaries including standalone primary dealers, financial market participants operating in RBI regulated markets, all NBFCs,microfinance institutions etc.

Offices of advocates,custom house agents, licensed multi-nodal transport operators associated with movement of vaccines, life-saving drugs and pharma products, will also be allowed to function, the guidelines said.

Any student requiring to attend the examination physically will be allowed to travel to the examination centre or back home after 8 pm or on weekends subject to carrying a valid hall ticket.

Persons arrivingor departing by trains, buses or flights during the 8 pm to 7 am period or weekends may travel provided they have a valid ticket, the guidelines said.

On Sunday, the government had announced that except for the essential services shops, medical shops and grocery shops, all other shops, markets and shopping malls will remain shut till April 30.

It had also announced that all private offices, except in banking, stock market, insurance, pharma, telecommunication and mediclaim sectors, will be shut as part of these restrictions.

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Work from home is mandatory for private offices, except those in local disaster management, electricity and water supply, the statement had said.

Government offices, except those departments involved in COVID-19 management, will function at 50 per cent of their capacity, it had added.

The Mumbai Police on Monday issued prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC banning the assembly of five or more people at public places in the city from 7 am to 8 pm from Mondays to Fridays till April 30.

The order also imposed a night curfew on weekdays and a strict lockdown on weekends beginning from 8 pm on Friday till 7 am on Monday.

The order was issued by Deputy Commissioner of Police (operations) S Chaitanya which will remain in force till April 30 unless withdrawn earlier.

It stated that a strict lockdown will be enforced during weekends.

“No person will be allowed to roam outside without a valid reason from 8 pm on Friday till 7 am on Monday,” as per the order.

The order asked people to adhere to the COVID appropriate behaviour including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing at public places.

Those found violating the new curbs will be booked under section 188 (disobeying public servant’s order) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act, it said.

Mumbai had reported the highest 11,163 cases in a day on Sunday.

As on Monday, Mumbai’s caseload stood at 4,62,302.

Alarmed by the huge rise in cases over the last few days, the state government on Sunday announced a weekend lockdown and night curfew during the weekdays from Monday to April 30, in addition to a slew of other restrictions like the closure of private offices, theatres and salons.

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The weekend lockdown will start from 8 pm on Fridays and last till 7 am on Mondays.

Besides, prohibitory orders will be in force during the daytime on weekdays, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) had said in a statement.

Meanwhile, an association of hair-cutting saloons in Aurangabad on Monday opposed the new restrictions imposed by the Maharashtra government to tackle the COVID-19 surge.

Functionaries of the Maharashtra Nabhik Mahamandal said the state government’s order directing hair-cutting saloons to remain shut till April 30 would severely affect the trade, which already bore the brunt of lack of business during much of 2020 under the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

In a video, several members of the association were seen burning copies of the government order.

The Nabhik Mahamandal’s Marathwada president Vishnu Wakhre said a memorandum has been sent to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray demanding financial aid for the sector.

Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and the Maharashtra government’s notification on restrictions, weekend lockdown and night curfew to contain it, officials of the renowned Saibaba temple in Shirdi decided to keep it shut from Monday night till further orders.

As per the Maharashtra government notification, religious places will remain closed due to the rise in COVID- 19 cases, and, therefore, the Saibaba temple will remain closed for devotees from Monday 8 pm till further orders, said Ravindra Thakre, the officiating chief executive officer, Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust.

However, the daily affairs inside the temple premise will go on asusual, though accommodation and ‘prasadalay’ ( dining hall for devotees) will remain closed, he said.