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Thackeray tightens clampdown in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur (Ld)

Mumbai, March 20 (IANS) Further tightening the clampdown in the state, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday ordered all private offices, shops and commercial establishments to be shut in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, slashing attendance in government offices to 25 per cent, while all examinations from Class I to VIII stand cancelled.

However, Mumbai’s lifelines, the local trains and public buses, will continue for now though he called upon people to refrain from stepping out in the ‘war against virus’, with COVID-19 cases touching 52 in the state.

“After my appeal yesterday, we noticed a substantial drop in crowds in trains and buses, but more needs to be done. The government has decided that barring extremely essential services, all private offices and shops will remain closed till March 31 and attendance in government offices will be only 25 per cent,” Thackeray said.

These measures will be enforced effective from midnight tonight and will be strictly implemented in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region comprising Mumbai city and suburbs, parts of Raigad, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Palghar, Pune Metropolitan Region including Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and surroundings, and Nagpur, the state’s second capital.

Shortly thereafter, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai issued a notification listing the details of Thackeray’s orders.

As per the circular by Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, all private, corporates and establishments shall be completely shut down, vehicular movement will be restricted in the areas of all isolation/quarantine centers like Kasturba, KEM and Seven Hills hospitals.

The extremely essential services exempt from the shutdown include the railways, and bus services, media, banks, telephone and Internet providers, water, sewerage, electricity, food, vegetables, groceries, hospitals and pharmacies, all fuel stations, ports and those manufacturing or production processes which require continuity of processes but at 50 per cent staff strength only.

In view of the latest developments, Mumbai’s Archbishop, Cardinal Oswald Gracias has suspended all masses and church services till April 4, while the Haji Ali mausoleum and Mahim Dargah have banned entry till further orders.

The Dawoodi Bohra’s famed Raudat Tahera mausoleum has been shut till further notice, the Fatemi Dawat in Thane has also banned all religious and community activities and now offers ‘namaz’ and other services online.

The Assistant Municipal Commissioners and Police have been asked to issue advisories to people not to gather at any public places and beaches. Spitting in public would result in a hefty fine of Rs 1,000.

Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said that while all examinations from Class I to VIII are cancelled and all students will be automatically promoted, a decision on Class IX and Class XI will be taken next month, while the ongoing Class X examinations will be continued as per schedule.

Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that the condition of all patients, barring two, is stable in various hospitals across the state and has appealed to people not to step out of their homes.

He added that the state has completely banned all flights from worst-hit 12 countries besides exercising extreme precautions for flights from all other nations at the three international airports in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur for the past over a month.

Tope advised people to respond to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call and observe the ‘Janata curfew’ on Sunday by remaining indoors.

Later today, Thackeray will join a video-conference with the PM and CMs of some of the other worst-hit states in the country to discuss further measures to control the spread of coronavirus.

–IANS

qn/prs

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