MUMBAI: Amid the deteriorating COVID-19 situation in the state, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is expected to announce a complete lockdown in the state from Wednesday (April 21, 2021) in order to ''break the chain of coronavirus infections.''
According to the sources, the MVA government may announce a two-week lockdown in the state as the existing 'break the chain' guidelines aren't proving to be efficient.
In a serious bid to curb the rising COVID-19 cases, the Maharashtra Cabinet had on Tuesday unanimously requested Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to announce a complete lockdown o contain the spread o the infections.
Most of the ministers were in favour of a complete lockdown in the state. "CM Thackeray will make the announcement in this regard at 8 pm tonight (Wednesday)," Health Minister Rajesh Tope also said.
"All the cabinet ministers expressed views in favour of a strict lockdown to minimise the spread of COVID-19. Ministers come from all corners of the state, so it also indicates that the entire state needs this measure," Tope added.
"We have requested the CM to announce a complete lockdown in the state from tomorrow at 8 pm. This was the request of all ministers to CM, now it is his decision," said Tope. "Tomorrow after 8 pm, the CM will announce the decision on lockdown in the state," he added.
Maharashtra has been reporting over 50,000 coronavirus cases every day in the last two weeks, but people are still flouting the existing restrictions on movement and gatherings, Tope said.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Food and Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal too said that Chief Minister will announce a decision about lockdown on Wednesday. "We have made all the efforts to minimise the COVID-19 figures. He will announce the decision (to impose lockdown) tomorrow after finalising a detailed Standard Operating Procedure," Bhujbal said.
"We may have to impose restrictions on the local train movement in Mumbai too, he said.
Minister Aslam Sheikh said the guidelines regarding the complete lockdown will be announced soon. "Looking at the shortage of supply of medical oxygen, Maharashtra is heading towards a complete lockdown; guidelines regarding it will be announced soon," he said.
According to sources, the state government may announce curbs on inter and intra-district vehicular movement during the lockdown. However, railways and airline services will continue.
The government will exempt chemist shops from the lockdown. Groceries, diaries, and shops selling other essential commodities are likely to remain open for a few hours only. Staff attendance in government, semi-government offices will be reduced to 10% from 50%. Private offices are likely to be shut during this period.
Vaccination and all health emergency services will be exempted from the strict lockdown. Amid all this, School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad has announced that the upcoming state SSC Board exams for 2021 have been cancelled.