Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on 21 February warned that the state would impose a strict lockdown if people did not follow norms appropriate to the safeguards necessary to prevent Covid-19 for the next eight days. He announced a complete ban for a few days on all political, social and religious gatherings, processions, morchas and public protests to check the spread of the disease.
Thackeray has given a stern warning to the people of the state and said there would be a total lockdown if people did not start wearing face masks.
Thackeray said, “The lockdown will start from tomorrow evening wherever needed.”
“Lockdown will not start all of a sudden. We aren’t putting a stop to any development works. Lockdown will start from tomorrow evening wherever needed,” the Maharashtra chief minister said.
Thackeray said that he was monitoring the residents for the next 10 to 15 days and if the Covid-19 norms were flouted, he would be forced to reimpose a lockdown in the state.
Calling the coronavirus situation in Maharashtra “serious”, Thackeray said that the coming eight days would decide whether there would be a lockdown in the state as daily Covid-19 cases continued to rise.
In a video address, the Maharashtra chief minister said it would take “8 to 15 days” to ascertain if the current upsurge in daily Covid-19 cases was a fresh wave of infections. He warned people to follow coronavirus protocols to avert another lockdown.
“Do we need a lockdown? If you behave responsibly, we will know in the next eight days. Those who don’t want a lockdown, will wear a mask. Those who want a lockdown, will not wear one. So wear a mask and say ‘No’ to the lockdown,” Thackeray said.
“Whether this is a second wave or not, we will understand this in the coming 8 to 15 days,” Thackeray said.
With the reference to the state government’s campaign against coronavirus ‘my family, my responsibility’, the chief minister introduced a new slogan, “I am responsible.”
“The new slogan ‘I am responsible’ conveys that people must be responsible for themselves. People must make sure that they are wearing a mask, keeping social distancing and washing their hands,” he said.
Thackeray’s ultimatum to the people comes just a little after the state government imposed a total lockdown on Amravati and Achalpur cities for a week. It announced a partial lockdown in five districts: Amravati, Akola, Buldhana, Washim and Yavatmal.
“Amravati has around 1,000 cases today, this is more than what it had last year during peak. From 40,000 active case there are 53,000 active cases in the state. Amravati, Yawatmal, Akola, Buldhana and Washmi are critical areas,” he said.
Speaking to news agency, Amravati District Collector Shailesh Naval said, “A curfew will be imposed in Amravati Municipal Corporation and Achalpur Municipal Council limits from 8 pm on 22 February to 6 AM on 1 March.”
Mumbai Police Commissioner took to microblogging site Twitter and informed the citizens that Mumbai Police too would be active on the field tracking people not following rules.
“Dear Mumbaikars, @MumbaiPolice is now authorised to issue challans to offenders not wearing a mask too. Every time we fined you for not wearing a helmet or seatbelt it was always to remind you the value of your life & safety. Same for masks. Please take care. You matter to us,” the Commissioner tweeted.
Meanwhile, politicians have cancelled their programmes today in response to Thackeray’s appeal. Supriya Sule has brought ahead her public engagements. Uday Samant, minister of higher education, has cancelled programmes as well.
On 21 February, Maharashtra Minister Vijay Wadettiwar said, “In view of rising Covid-19 cases in districts like Nagpur, Amravati and Yatvmal, the Maharashtra Government is thinking of imposing a night curfew in the districts. A meeting will be chaired by the Chief Minister soon to make a decision.”
Maharashtra reported 6,971 fresh Covid-19 cases and 2,417 recoveries in the last 24 hours. As per the state health department, the total number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra reached 21,00,884. The number of active cases stands at 52,956 in Maharashtra.