PUNE: Restrictions on account of the COVID-19 pandemic in Pune should be relaxed as they are affecting businesses and commerce, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said here on Saturday.

The trader community in the city and even employees of shopping malls have been demanding that shops and other establishments be allowed to remain open till 8 pm instead of 4 pm.

“There should be strict restrictions in the cities where the infection positivity rate is above five per cent. But for the last one month, Pune’s positivity rate is below five per cent. The state government should relax restrictions. Businesses are already suffering losses,” the former chief minister told reporters here.

Fadnavis, who visited the ongoing Metro construction work in the city, said around 60 per cent work has been completed.

“Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) work is a critical part of a Metro project. Pune metro has completed almost 100 per cent of three TBM works. I am hopeful that soon the entire work will be finished in time,” he said.

On Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar flagging off a trial run of the Kothrud corridor of Metro, Fadnavis said he had no objection to that as Pawar is deputy CM and guardian minister of Pune.

“But I hope that the inauguration of Pune Metro would take place at the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I am confident that Pawar will agree with me,” he said.

The Pune Municipal Corporation has proposed a Neo Metro project too, Fadnavis said.

“We can get around 80 per cent of funding for the project from the Union government. The PMC should send a proposal to the state government. We will secure funding from the Centre,” he said.

About reports that Chandrakant Patil would be removed as state BJP chief, Fadnavis said these were baseless rumors and the party was happy with Patil’s work.