A surging number of COVID-19 cases has forced Mumbai police to enforce Section-144 in the city, restricting the movement of people. Maharashtra's Shiv Sena Government asks citizens not to panic.
On Thursday, the Mumbai Police announced its decision to impose restrictions on movement and gatherings under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The order was issued by Shahaji Umap, DCP Operations as per the guidelines of the state government on 31st August this year pertaining to the easing of restrictions in Phase-7 of Mumbai’s lockdown. The restrictions on the order are applicable until the 30th of September. The issued order read:
"All movement of one or more persons in areas designated as "containment zone" by the Municipal Authorities is prohibited, except for essential activities, supply of essential goods and medical emergencies."
The order also mentions a list of exempted entities which includes:
Govt or Semi/Govt agencies and their officials on duty
Establishments providing essential services like
Food, vegetables, Milk supplies, Ration and Grocery Stores;
hospitals, medicine, pharma, and related establishments, pathology, laboratories, medical/nursing colleges.
telephone & internet services
electricity, petroleum, oil and energy-related,
banking, stock exchange, stockbrokers
IT & IT-enabled services and Data Centres providing services for critical national and international infrastructure and needed for above essential and emergency services
Services providing home delivery of food, grocery, and essential commodities
E-commerce activity for essential and non-essential items advertising
Drinking water supply and maintenance'
Godown and warehousing related to all of the above
trucks, tempos carrying goods and manpower related to the above services
Uncertainty struck Mumbaikars late last evening surrounding the announcement. In his address, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray explained the risk of a second wave of COVID-19 hitting the city. The Mumbai Police were instructed to take necessary action against the violators. However, Mumbai Police Spokesperson, DCP N Ambika soon cleared the air saying,
“DCP Operations has issued an order under 144 CrPC yesterday which will be applicable in Mumbai city up to 30th September. It is issued as per the guidelines received from the state government on 31st August regarding easing of restrictions and phase-wise opening of Lockdown (Mission Begin Again) and no new/fresh restrictions have been imposed by Mumbai Police.”
In a tweet later in the evening, Cabinet Minister of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray clarified the matter in a tweet; urging citizens to stay calm as there would be no change in the current restrictions.
Previously this week, the Maharashtra government announced the “My Family My Responsibility Campaign” effective from the 15th of September. The two-phased campaign promises to survey 22.5 million families in the city twice a month. The campaign also reminds citizens to reduce commutes as much as possible to reduce the spread of disease. The following tweet was posted to Twitter on Saturday, 12th September by the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai:
The above comes while the number of Coronavirus cases in Mumbai sees its highest single-day spike with 2389 people testing positive. This takes the total tally of cases in the city to 1,78,275. The active cases have consequently reached 32,849 and the death toll rose to 8,320. The active cases are currently at their highest in two months.
Considering the state of the Indian economy, Maharashtra’s Government seems to be inclined at reviving local businesses and other financial activities in the city. While it isn’t proved that a direct effect of this falls on the number of cases in the city, the authorities do appear to be receptive to their rising numbers. Successful implementation of the proposed survey campaign could prove to be a major step towards a COVID free Mumbai city. However, how the government carries out the undertaking is yet to be seen.