Uddhav Thackeray likely to announce decision on Wednesday
As Maharashtra’s health infrastructure cracks under the onslaught of the second wave of the pandemic, the Cabinet on Tuesday requested Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to impose a stern lockdown to break the virus chain.
Following the crucial Cabinet meet, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said all Ministers were of the view that a complete lockdown was the need of the hour and had urged Mr. Thackeray to announce the same. The Chief Minister is likely to announce his decision on Wednesday, said sources.
“We have requested the Chief Minister to officially announce a complete lockdown from Wednesday 8 p.m. Now, it is up to the Chief Minister to take the final decision,” said Mr. Tope.
Urban Development and Public Works Minister Eknath Shinde said all Ministers were ‘unanimous’ in agreeing that the restrictions imposed by the government a week ago were not having the desired effect in bringing cases down.
“While we hoped that the fresh curbs announced last week would help reduce cases, this is not happening. Regrettably, we still see a lot of people and vehicles moving about freely on roads. As a result, the number of patients has been rising dramatically, imposing a big strain on the health infrastructure,” said Mr. Shinde, observing that as a consequence, the State was facing an acute shortage of oxygen.
He said the Cabinet was of the opinion that if the chain had to be broken, a lockdown was essential.
“The lockdown imposed last year did help in bringing down cases…now, calls for a lockdown are not only emanating from the Cabinet but also from sections of citizens,” Mr. Shinde said.
Even before the Cabinet meet, Ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Rajendra Shingne among others said they were in favour of a strict 15-day lockdown.
Transport Minister Anil Parab said the curtailing of timings of groceries and other essential food shops was a prelude to a full-fledged lockdown.
The government imposed additional restrictions by curtailing timings of essential food items like groceries, vegetables, fruit and poultry shops, permitting them to remain open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
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