Delta Plus: Maharashtra announces ‘level 3’ restrictions, shops and public spaces to shut by 4 pm

New Delhi: The Maharashtra government on Friday (June 25) decided to make unlocking rules stricter in the state in view of COVID-19 newest mutant Delta Plus claiming its first victim. The latest development comes amid reports of Delta and Delta Plus variants of coronavirus and a possible third COVID-19 wave in the state. According to reports, Maharashtra has a total of 20 cases of Delta Plus variant in the state. 

The Maharashtra government has said that while easing of restrictions can’t be risked, total RT-PCR tests and, not Rapid antigen tests, will be a decisive factor. The government further said the focus will be on the vaccination of the highest number of people possible. According to the latest order, all administrative units, including Pune and Thane, will be placed under a minimum of level 3 restrictions, which implies that the previous permissions to open malls and other public places will be withheld. 

All standalone shops and other public spaces will now have to close down till 4 pm. Weekly positivity rate regarding levels of restrictions will be determined on the basis of RT-PCR tests, and not rapid antigen or other tests, the state government said and described Delta plus as a variant of concern. Restrictions in administrative units will remain at a level not below 3, according to new guidelines issued as part of a government notification which also calls for pushing for 70 per cent vaccination of eligible population in the state. 

The move indicates tightening of restrictions to curb any surge in cases after some people were detected with the highly infectious Delta plus variant of coronavirus. Delta plus has been declared a variant of concern by the Centre. 

The notification amends the five-level unlock plan announced by the Maharashtra government earlier this month. Delta plus cases have been found in Ratnagiri, Jalgaon and some other districts of the state, requiring stricter curbs, the notification said. 

State-level trigger means that irrespective of the weekly positivity rate and oxygen bed occupancy, level 3 restrictions will continue in administrative units till the district disaster management authority takes a call to withdraw them, according to the notification. 

Essential shops and establishments can remain open till 4pm on all days in areas falling under level 3 of the five-step unlock plan. Non-essential shops and establishments can remain open till 4pm on weekdays, it said. Restaurants will be allowed dine-in facility with 50 per cent capacity till 4pm on weekdays and takeaways and home deliveries after that, the notification said.

Meanwhile, on June 24, the state reported 9,844 new COVID-19 cases, while 197 patients succumbed to the infection, the health department said. With 197 more deaths, the fatality count reached 1,19,859 (which included 359 ‘old’ deaths), it report said. Out of it, 149 deaths occurred in the last 48 hours and 48 in the last week, the department said.

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