Maharashtra tightens COVID-19 curbs once again; Mumbai under Level-3 restrictions
Amid fears that Delta and Delta-Plus variants of SARS-CoV-2—the virus causing COVID-19—would fuel the potentiality of the imminent third wave, the Maharashtra Government tightened COVID-19-related curbs across the state. It has amended its five-level unlock strategy and Mumbai has been placed in Level-3 of the system. This came after the death of an 80-year-old woman from Ratnagiri district who was infected with Delta-Plus variant.
Modifying its five-level unlock plan, the Maharashtra Government decided to do away with Level-1 and Level-2—which had maximum relaxations—for now. All districts/cities under Level-1/Level-2 will automatically now move to Level-3. The weekly positivity rate and oxygen bed occupancy formula for easing curbs wouldn't be followed. Despite fulfilling Level-1 criteria, Mumbai is under Level-3 as part of the government's decision to impose stricter state-wide restrictions.
In a statement, the state government said Maharashtra "continues to be threatened with the spread of COVID-19," adding Delta and Delta-Plus variants are "fueling the potentiality of imminent, more severe third wave." It noted the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) designated Delta-Plus a "Variant of Concern" with "increased transmissibility; stronger binding to receptors of lung cells; and potential reductions in monoclonal antibody response."
On Friday, Maharashtra's Health Minister Rajesh Tope said 21 people in the state were infected with the Delta-Plus variant of which one (the 80-year-old Ratnagiri resident) died. In its statement, the state government also said "stricter restrictions" are required in Maharashtra to contain the spread of the virus, as this highly infectious Delta-Plus variant has been found in Ratnagiri, Jalgaon, and some other districts.
In areas under Level-3, including Mumbai, shops selling essentials can remain open until 4:00pm (all days), while those selling non-essentials can operate until 4:00pm only on weekdays. Also, malls and theaters/multiplexes must remain closed, but restaurants can operate at 50% capacity until 4:00pm after which only takeaways will be allowed. E-commerce services will also be allowed, and gyms and salons can operate until 4:00pm.
Weddings in Level-3 areas can take place with 50 guests while funerals are allowed with 20 people. Social/cultural gatherings on weekdays are allowed with 50% capacity. Public transport buses can run with full capacity; local trains will be allowed only for essential workers and women. Private and government offices can operate with 50% capacity; private offices can operate until 4:00 pm on all days.
Public places and parks for walking and cycling can be opened from 5:00-9:00am on all days and outdoor sports are allowed during 5:00-9:00am and 6:00-9:00pm. Public movement is restricted after 5:00pm every day. Also, film shootings in a bubble are allowed.