MUMBAI: As part of its fresh ‘unlock’ guidelines, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday allowed re-starting of Metro rail in the state from Thursday, October 15, in a graded manner. However, Mumbai Metro said it will start its services from Monday, while monorail services in the city will resume from Sunday.

Metro rail services will be open for all and not just essential services workers. Mumbai Metro authorities said details on seating in keeping with Covid-19 protocols and on train frequency would be finalized by Thursday. Before Covid struck, the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro 1 line carried 4.5 lakh passengers per day on 400 services.
According to the notification issued by the MVA government unlocking further sectors under its Mission Begin Again initiative, passengers at airports and railway stations will no longer be stamped with indelible ink to indicate their 14-day home quarantine period, and screening too will no longer be done at railway stations. The notification allowed B2B exhibitions outside containment zones.
While shops will be allowed to remain open for an additional two hours (9 am to 9 pm) starting Thursday, weekly markets (including animal markets) are also allowed, with SOPs to be issued by local bodies.
There was no mention, however, of reopening religious shrines, an issue over which Governor B S Koshyari and CM Uddhav Thackeray had a verbal spat on Tuesday after Koshyari asked the CM to reopen places of worship “forthwith.” Gyms and theatres will remain closed in the state though the Centre has allowed them to re-open.
The fresh guidelines allow 50% of teaching and non-teaching school staff to go to school for online teaching, tele-counselling or related work. However, the state has made it clear that regular schools, colleges and coaching classes will remain closed for students and regular class activities till October 31. Also, in a major relief to several students, the state has allowed opening up of government and private libraries. “There was a demand from many student bodies to open up libraries as many students who live in small and congested homes or are preparing for competitive exams are dependent on these study areas,” a senior official said.
The notification has permitted skilling and entrepreneurship training at industrial training institutes, short-term training institutes and any other skill training institute registered under the National Skill Development Corporation. Besides, research scholars and PhD students from the science and technology streams who require access to labs for their work can visit their respective campuses. Detailed guidelines will be issued by the department of higher and technical education in this regard.
Viren Shah of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association welcomed the government’s new guidelines. “Right now business is 30%, but with this announcement it will increase to 50%,” he said. The association has demanded that the state permit access to local trains as it will not only boost businesses but make commute easy.
On the decision not to screen train passengers, a senior official said, “With the Centre and state largely opening up travel, it will not be feasible for staffers at railway stations to screen each passenger, so this has been done away with. But passengers will be urged to follow all Covid-19 protocols,” the official said.
In keeping with previous guidelines, only 50 people would still be allowed at a wedding ceremony or a family function and 20 would be allowed for a funeral.

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