Commuter train rides, haircuts and visits to shopping malls and religious places will remain out of bounds across the State for the next phase of the lockdown till June 30, the Maharashtra government announced on Sunday.

‘Mission Begin Again’, the State’s nomenclature for the gradual unwinding of lockdown restrictions beginning June 3, envisages no relaxations for containment zones to be notified by local civic bodies, while buses and taxis for commuters will not operate in most urban areas that will see some relaxations over June such as shops and private offices being allowed to open on June 3 and June 8, respectively.

These restricted relaxations will kick in for areas under municipal corporations of Mumbai, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Region (MMR), Pune, Solapur, Aurangabad, Malegaon, Nashik, Dhule, Jalgaon, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur. Shops can open here and private offices can operate at 10% strength, while courier services, plumbers, electricians and garages can also begin work.

For the rest of the State, some more relaxations have been offered, such as plying of intra-district buses, taxis and personal vehicles (with restricted passengers) and running private and government offices at full strength.

Physical distancing norms are to be followed for all activities.

The Central government’s guidelines for this period permit religious places and restaurants, but the State has decided to keep religious places closed and permit restaurants to open only for home delivery purposes. The easing of restrictions will be done in a phased manner along with standard operating procedures.

Outdoor activities

In what may prove to be a significant relaxation for many residents staying inbound for over two months, the State has allowed outdoor physical activities like cycling, jogging, and walking in open public spaces like beaches and playgrounds, in the first phase of ‘Mission Begin Again’, albeit with certain conditions. For instance, these activities can only be carried out between 5 am and 7 pm, with no permission for group activity or the use of indoor facilities.

Children, if they step out, should be accompanied by an adult. People are permitted to use open spaces only near their own residence. Long distance travel will not be permitted. People would be actively encouraged to use cycling as a form of physical exercise as it automatically ensures social distancing.

Maintenance services

The green signal has also been granted for self-employed workers like plumbers, electricians, pest-control and technicians, which may come as a big relief for several households. Vehicles can also be taken to workshops, but with prior appointments.

Government offices (excluding emergency, health and medical, treasuries, disaster management, police, NIC, food and civil supply, FCI, N.Y.K., municipal services who can operate at the levels as per the need) will function at 15% strength or minimum 15 employees, whichever is higher.

Phase II

In the second phase, to be effective June 5, all markets, market areas and shops, except malls and market complexes, are allowed to function with the condition that shops on one side of a road or lane will open on odd dates and the other side on even dates. They can only operate from 9 am to 5 pm.

The use of trial rooms in shops will not be permitted for clothes, apparels and similar items to prevent spread of infection. Similarly no exchanges or return of goods will be permitted.

People have been advised to walk or use cycles for shopping, preferably in neighborhood markets as far as possible. Long distance travel for non-essential items will not be permitted. Use of motorized vehicles for shopping will be strictly discouraged.

Phase III

In the third phase, to be effective June 8, private offices can operate with up to 10% strength as per requirement, with remaining persons working from home. However all employers must undertake sensitisation programmes to educate employees to take adequate precautions on returning home, so that vulnerable groups such as the elderly are not infected.

In the rest of the State, no permission is needed from any authorities for permitted activities. Outdoor portions of sport complexes and stadia and other open to sky public spaces will be permitted to remain open for individual exercises only. (See MISSION BEGIN AGAIN for more details)

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