Follow COVID-19 norms or face fresh lockdown, warns Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray

MUMBAI: Concerned over the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday asked citizens to strictly follow government-mandated guidelines on masks and social distancing or be prepared to face another round of lockdown.

After reporting 4,092 COVID-19 cases on last Sunday, the highest single-day tally in more than a month, Maharashtra registered 3,663 new cases on Tuesday, 461 of them in Mumbai.

This was the seventh straight day when the state’s daily count remained above the 3,000-mark, indicating a steady rise in infections as compared to the previous few weeks.

Expressing concern over the lackadaisical attitude in following COVID-19-related safety protocols in the wake of phase-wise lifting ofrestrictions, he said it was up to citizens to decide if they want to go into a complete lockdown again to curb the spread of the infection.

“It is up to the people of the state to decide if they want a lockdown or live freely with some restrictions. Wear face masks and avoid crowds or else (you) will need to go into a lockdown again,” Thackeray said.

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Alarmed over thesurge in COVID-19 cases in the last few days in some districts, Thackeray held a review meeting with divisional commissioners and collectors through video conferencing to take stock of the situation.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar was among those present on the occasion.

The CM asked the administration to ensure safety norms like wearing face masks in public and social distancing are followed and authorised officials to take action against offenders.

“People may have become complacent but the authorities should not (drop guard),” Thackeray said and asked the administrationto regularly sanitise and disinfect public places.

Mobile vans should be used in rural areas to increase the number of COVID-19 tests, the chief minister said.

Speaking at the meeting , Thackeray said, Non- implementation of COVID-19 safety SoPs is a serious matters.

“The administration should contact commercial establishments and organisations and check if they are following SoPs. Wherever necessary, declare containment zones.”

He stressed on the need for contact tracing of each patient in areas where COVID-19 cases are rising.

“Contact tracing must be done in a targeted manner. At least 20 contacts of each patient should be traced and tested,” the CM suggested.

Police permission will be required for organising marriage functions, Thackeray said.

“Marriage ceremonies held up for the last one year have resumed. Social gatherings and parties have also begun without any safety rules.

“Timings of hotels and restaurants have been extended but safety norms have been neglected,” Thackeray said, adding local authorities should keep a vigil on crowding and take immediate action wherever necessary.

Banquet hall owners should be punished if anybody is found moving in the premises without a face mask, he said.

The chief minister said agitations, public meetings and processions should not be permitted given the present COVID-19 situation.

He said the authorities should cancel permits and licences of halls and auditoriums where safety SoPs are not followed during marriages and other social functions.

The CM directed that field hospitals should be monitored to check if all facilities are functional.

Till February 16, the state has recorded 20,71,306 COVID-19 cases and 51,591 deaths.