Amid the surging COVID-19 infections in Maharashtra, Chief Minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray, on Sunday, April 11, is expected to decide on implementing a state-wide lockdown after a key meeting with the COVID-19 task force discussing the present situation.
On Saturday, Thackeray held an all-party meeting in which the issues were thoroughly discussed.
Thackeray said he interacted with several people from different sectors and private hospitals over the last few days. "All are ready to support the government," Hindustan Times quoted the CM as saying.
Although the duration of the lockdown will be officially announced, it is estimated to last for two weeks to break the virus's chain.
An official privy said, "Though we are not going to touch the public transport, the people will not be allowed to travel without valid reasons which include essential and medical services. Similarly, we are not going to halt the long-distance trains or the flight services. By keeping the trains and buses operating, we want to ensure that the people stepping out for the vaccination, exams and urgent travel are not affected.''
On Saturday, Ashok Chavan, the Congress party leader and a member of the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA), said lockdown for few days is required, and then relaxations can be granted. "The CM will hold a meeting with the state COVID-19 task force on Sunday. There should be a balance when imposing restrictions to prevent coronavirus, and necessary factors should also be considered while imposing restrictions," Chavan said, adding that the "nature, scope and duration of the lockdown will be finalised soon.
In its statement, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said that the COVID-19 situation was deteriorating in Maharashtra. "On the one hand, there is a public sentiment, but on the other hand, there is an outbreak of coronavirus, in which case if you want to win this battle, you have to go through some hardships," the statement said.
The state government has imposed a strict weekend lockdown from Friday night till 7 am on Monday. However, the proposed lockdown is expected to be more stringent, with only necessary public transportation and private vehicles likely to be permitted.
The preparations of the updated Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the lockdown will start on Sunday.
Before SOPs are announced, discussions on providing help and relief packages to the vulnerable groups will take place, and the packages may include food grain distribution, cash assistance to construction workers and labourers, among others.
Maharashtra recorded 55,411 new COVID-19 cases and 309 deaths on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to 33,43,951 and the death toll to 57,638, according to the state health department.