PUNE: Shops in Pune city can remain open till 8 pm from August 9 and restaurants with a 50 per cent capacity till 10 pm, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said on Sunday.

Malls are also allowed to function in Pune and neighbouring Pimpri Chinchwad township till 8 pm but only citizens who have received both the doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be allowed entry, he said.

Restaurant owners, traders and mall workers associations have been demanding that the timings of their establishments be extended and had also staged a protest.

Recently, the Maharashtra government had allowed shops to function till 8 pm in 25 districts excluding Pune and ten other districts where level-3 restrictions continue to remain in force.

“Considering the constant positivity rate at 3.3 per cent in Pune and at 3.5 per cent in Pimpri Chinchwad, we are relaxing some norms for business. From Monday, all shops are allowed to open till 8 pm. However, shop owners and staff must wear masks and get themselves fully vaccinated. Restaurants are also allowed to operate with a 50 per cent capacity till 10 pm. Pune rural areas will continue to remain under the current level-3 restrictions owing to a high positivity rate,” Pawar told reporters after attending a coronavirus review meeting.

He said malls are allowed to remain open in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad but only citizens who have received both doses of vaccines will be allowed entry.

“The mall staff must get themselves fully vaccinated.

Also, staff should undergo tests once every fortnight.

Malls are allowed to remain open till 8 pm,” said Pawar, also guardian minister of the Pune district.

The Deputy CM also appealed to traders to keep all the commercial establishments and markets closed in the limits of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad civic areas once a week on a day of their choice.

Public gardens will be allowed to remain open in the morning and evening like they used to be before the pandemic.

Sports activities are also allowed in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad except for swimming.

Temples will continue to remain closed, Pawar said, adding that people should strictly follow COVID-19 norms.

A total of 65, 25, 580 citizens have been inoculated against COVID-19 so far in the Pune district, as per the district administration.