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Curbs may stay in Mumbai

Maharashtra is unlikely to allow economic and other activities to resume in one go in Mumbai and other red zones, even outside designated containment zones.

As on date, the state has 3,169 containment zones, of which 684 are in Mumbai and 65 are in Pune, the state’s two major hotspots. Thane district has 177 containment zones. It is expected that as per the new MHA guidelines, there will be no activities in these areas, but official sources said even outside the containment areas in 19 designated red zoned municipal corporations in the state, people can at the most look forward only to a gradual easing out of restrictions. That includes Mumbai and Pune.

Keen to avoid a new flare-up of cases, the state has plans to permit standalone shops to remain open only on two or three days of the week for now. As part of the state’s soon-to-be released revised lockdown guidelines, sources said that people will be advised to restrict shopping to neighbourhood shops and avoid travelling to distant market places.

With the suburban rail unlikely to resume in the immediate future, the first phase of Maharashtra’s own unlock plan for Mumbai does not involve permitting private offices to open. If anything, offices, for now, will only be allowed to call skeletal staff for general upkeep and emergency operations. The rest will be encouraged to continue working from home.

While trade associations and industry bodies have been lobbying for reopening of the city’s economy, sources confirmed that the Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition government continues to be wary of a surge of cases after reopening, and so has adopted a slower and a multi-phased approach of lifting curbs on economic activity. Earlier this week, the Federation of Associations of Maharashtra, a traders’ body representing 781 trader associations, had approached Thackeray seeking the opening of both retail and wholesale shops for at least some days of the week.

Acceding to the request, sources said the government has planned phased resumption of markets areas and shops except for malls and market complexes in all the 19 red zones including Mumbai. A senior official said, “The plan being considered for now is to permit market areas and shops to operate at the level of 33 per cent shops.”

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