05, Jun 2021 | CJP Team
In what can be considered as part of a move towards a staggered relaxation of the stringent lockdown imposed on the state, the Government of Maharashtra has issued an order containing the new plan for assigning cities under different levels. The level assigned will determine what kinds of economic/social/cultural activities are permitted and under what conditions.
Levels of restrictions assigned to each district will be based on case positivity rate and oxygen bed occupancy in the hospitals of the same. The Public Health department of the Government of Maharashtra will declare the data every Thursday. Based on these parameters the District Disaster Management Authority will decide the level of restrictions.
There will be five levels assigned to administrative units based on which level of restriction will be implemented-
Level 1: Positivity is less than 5% AND Oxygen beds occupancy is less than 25% (both)
Level 2: Positivity is less than 5% AND Oxygen beds occupancy is between 25% and 40% (both)
Level 3: EITHER Positivity is between 5%-10% OR Oxygen beds occupancy is above 40%
Level 4: EITHER Positivity is between 10%-20% OR Oxygen beds occupancy is above 60%
Level 5: EITHER Positivity is more than 20% OR Oxygen beds occupancy is above 75%
Generally, Level 1 is the least restrictive with most activities permitted but under Covid-appropriate norms like social distancing and wearing of masks. Level 5 is an almost complete lockdown like situation. The table below indicates a general guiding principle that will be followed in each level while deciding restrictions:
As per the new order, shops for essential items are allowed to function in all levels with restricted hours for Level 3, 4 and 5. Shops selling non-essential items will remain closed in areas under level 4 and 5. Whether eating out will be allowed, allowed with restrictions or disallowed will depend on the level. In Level 5, only home delivery of food items will be permitted and dining in at restaurants will be allowed. Gyms, salons, spas and wellness centers will be allowed to operate in all levels except level 5 with restrictions on capacity and timing varying from level to level along with some unique conditions like allowing only vaccinated customers and no air conditioning in level 4.
Public spaces and sports activities will be allowed in certain levels but with restrictions on timings with level 5 disallowing all kinds of such activities. Except for level 1 and all forms of social and cultural gatherings will face limits on crowd or be barred altogether in level 4 and 5. Marriages however will be allowed in the higher levels with severe restrictions on the number of people.
Private offices will be open in the levels with less severity and only those in the exempted category will be allowed in level 4 and 5. The attendance requirement will drop gradually as the level assigned becomes greater. Public meetings and election related activities will also be allowed with 50% capacity while it will be entirely online in case of level 5.
To this effect, manufacturing, agriculture transport, e-commerce and construction will be allowed in all levels but with additional conditions/restrictions on timing or capacity applicable to higher levels. Also at higher levels these sectors will be operating only under the essential criterion.
The government has also introduced a concept of “isolation bubble” which means a dedicated isolation of restricting interactions of work forces amongst themselves only. Similarly, “transport bubble” indicates isolated movement of the group in dedicated transport and not travelling publicly. The order also contains a list of all services categorised as “essential”.
All in all, the Maharashtra government has come up with more detailed and concrete methods of managing the unlocking of the economy whilst not putting pressure on the healthcare system. Although the measures look promising, there is no mention of more affirmative measures to “break the chain” like how the vaccination drive will be accommodated along with these restrictions. With a predicted third wave about to hit soon, there is an immediate need to increase vaccination.
A table enlisting the oxygen bed occupancy and positivity rates as on June 3,2021 for various districts as declared by the Public Health Department was also included in the order (shown below). Based on this data, the Disaster Management Authorities have assigned levels to administrative units within each district since June 7.
The entire notification may be viewed here: