Maha Issues New COVID Rules: Who Will Undergo Random Testing?

What are the new COVID rules? What does this mean for political, social, and religious gatherings in the state?

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COVID-19 in Maharashtra.
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The Maharashtra government on Saturday, 20 March, tightened the restrictions after a continuing surge of COVID cases in the state, adding that compulsory Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) will be conducted at crowded places in Mumbai.

Who will be tested? Where will these tests happen? Here’s all you need to know.

Who will be tested?

Any citizen in a ‘crowded public place’ can be pulled by state authorities to undergo a RAT test, in Mumbai and certain other districts in Maharashtra.

But what if I do not want to get tested?

The tests do not require the consent of citizens, but must be done randomly daily. If they refuse, they will be charged under the Epidemic Act, 1897.

Where will these tests happen?

A minimum of 1,000 people will be tested at each crowded place like railways, MSRTC bus depots, restaurants, tourist places, government offices, markets, etc. At malls, at least 400 random RATs will be conducted, the cost of which would have to be borne by the visitors.

Are cinema halls and restaurants open?

As per the revised order, cinema halls (single screen and multiplexes), hotels and restaurants will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, conditional to them adhering to the following restrictions:

  • No one to be allowed entry unless they are wearing masks
  • Temperature measuring devices to be used to ascertain that no one with fever gets entry
  • Adequate hand sanitizers to be kept at various convenient locations
  • Concerned establishments to ensure presence of enough manpower to enforce wearing of masks, as well as social distancing.

Can I visit a shopping mall?

You can. However, as per the new guidelines, no one will be allowed to enter a shopping mall unless they are wearing masks. You might also have to undergo a RAT test.

Further, as per the guidelines:

  • Temperature measuring devices to be used to ascertain that no one with fever gets entry
  • Adequate hand sanitizers to be kept at various convenient locations
  • Concerned establishments to ensure presence of enough manpower to enforce wearing of masks, as well as social distancing
  • Mall management to ensure that theatres, restaurants, and other establishments inside the mall adhere to all restrictions.

Are social, cultural or political gatherings allowed?

No. Social, cultural and political gatherings are not permitted.

Violation of this guideline will attract penalties under the Disaster Management Act for the owner of the premises on which such gathering is taking place.

Further, the property will be shut till the time the central government continues to notify COVID-19 as a disaster.

But what about weddings?

Weddings can still take place, but not more than 50 people will be allowed to be present at the wedding.

Violation of this norm shall also attract penalties under the Disaster Management Act for the owner of the premises on which the wedding is taking place.

The property, in this case too, will consequently be shut till the time the central government continues to notify COVID-19 as a disaster.

And how many people can be present during last rites?

Not more than 20 people will be permitted to be present for the purposes of performing last rites.

It will be the duty of the local authorities to ensure the same, said the government order.

Is home isolation allowed?

Yes, home isolation is allowed, although with the following restrictions:

  • Information to be provided about the same to the local authorities. The said authorities ought to also be informed about the medical professional under whose supervision the home isolation will be adhered to
  • A board is to be put up on the door or the location in which the home-isolation is being conducted for 14 days, indicating the presence of a coronavirus patient in the location
  • Home quarantine stamp to be affixed on the patient
  • Family members are advised to restrict their movements outside to the extent possible, and to never step out without a mask
  • Any violation of isolation shall lead to an immediate transfer to a COVID Care Centre designated by the local authority.

Any new guidelines for offices related to health and other essential services?

Yes. Offices related to health and other essential services shall work with 50 percent attendance.

Further, work from home is advised.

Any office found to be violating these norms shall be closed till the time the central government continues to notify COVID-19 as a disaster.

And for religious places?

Management trusts of all religious places to decide and announce the maximum number of visitors per hour allowed in the premises, depending on the availability of space for movement and gathering with social distancing.

Further, the government has advised initiation and use of convenient systems like online reservations for such visits.

Entry to religious places shall be conditional to adherence of following restrictions:

  • No one to be allowed entry unless they are wearing masks
  • Temperature measuring devices to be used to ascertain that no one with fever gets entry
  • Adequate hand sanitizers to be kept at various convenient locations
  • Concerned establishments to ensure presence of enough manpower to enforce wearing of masks, as well as social distancing.

Any new rules for drama theatres and auditoriums in the state?

The Maharashtra Government released a new order on Friday, 19 March, with a fresh set of restrictions for drama theatres and auditoriums. As per the fresh order, all drama theatres and auditoriums in the State are supposed to operate at 50 percent capacity with the following restrictions:

  • No entry will be allowed without proper wearing of masks
  • Temperature measuring devices to be used to ensure no one with fever gets an entry
  • Adequate hand sanitizers to be kept at various convenient locations
  • Concerned establishments to ensure presence of enough manpower to enforce wearing of masks as well as maintaining social distancing by all visitors at all times
  • Further, the new order specifies that drama halls and auditoriums cannot be used for any religious/social/political/cultural gatherings.

Besides, in case of violation of this order, concerned drama theatres/auditoriums shall have to remain closed for a period until the COVID-19 pandemic stays notified as a disaster by the central government. Violation will also attract penalties for the owner of the premises.

Are there any separate restrictions for private and government offices?

All private offices except those related to health and other essential services to function at 50 percent capacity, as per Friday’s order.

In case of government/semi government offices, the head of the office will take a decision regarding the staff attendance, and will also ensure adherence to all COVID-19 protocols.

But what about the manufacturing sector?

As per the latest order, the manufacturing sector is, per se, permitted to function at full capacity.

However, the order advises that the workforce be reduced to ensure adequate social distancing on the production floor.

Further, the order says: “For the purpose of maintaining social distancing, manufacturing units may be allowed to increase the working shifts as approved by the local authorities, says the order.”

Following restrictions, however, ought to be followed by the manufacturing sector in any case:

  • No entry will be allowed without proper wearing of masks
  • Temperature measuring devices to be used to ensure no one with fever gets an entry
  • Adequate hand sanitizers to be kept at various convenient locations
  • Concerned establishments to ensure presence of enough manpower to enforce wearing of masks as well as maintaining social distancing by all visitors at all times.

Further, the new order specifies that drama halls and auditoriums cannot be used for any religious/social/political/cultural gatherings.

Besides, in case of violation of this order, concerned drama theatres/auditoriums shall have to remain closed for a period until the COVID-19 pandemic stays notified as a disaster by the central government. Violation will also attract penalties for the owner of the premises.

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