Maharashtra Government’s Response to COVID-19 (till April 20, 2020)

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With 4,203 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Maharashtra has the highest number of cases in the country as of April 20, 2020.  Of these, 507 have been cured, and 223 have died.  In this blog, we summarise some of the key decisions taken by the Government of Maharashtra for containing the spread of COVID-19 in the state. 

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Measures taken prior to lockdown

By March 12, the state had registered 11 cases of COVID-19. Consequently, the state government took measures to: (i) prepare hospitals for screening and testing of patients, and (ii) limit mass gathering given the highly contagious nature of the disease. The measures taken by the government before the lockdown are summarised below.

Health Measures

On March 14, the government notified the Maharashtra COVID-19 regulations to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state.  Key features of the regulations include: (i) screening of COVID-19 patients in hospitals, (ii) home quarantine for people who have travelled through the affected areas, and (iii) procedures to be followed in the containment zones, among others. 

Movement Restrictions

On March 15, with 31 COVID-19 cases in the state, the Department of Public Health ordered the closure of cinema halls, swimming pools, gyms, theatres, and museums until March 31.   On March 16, all educational institutions and hostels in the state were closed till March 31.  The teaching staff was advised to work from home.  All exams were also deferred until March 31.

Administrative Measures

On March 13, the Maharashtra government constituted a high-level committee to formulate guidelines for mitigating of the spread of COVID-19 in the state.  The responsibilities of the committee included: (i) taking a daily review of the status of COVID-19 in the state, and (ii) implementing the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health.

On March 17, the first casualty due to COVID-19 occurred in the state.  On March 19, the government put restrictions on meetings in the government offices and issued safety guidelines to be followed in these meetings.

On March 20, considering the unmitigated spread of COVID-19 in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, the attendance in government offices was restricted to 25%. Subsequently, on March 23, the government limited the attendance in government offices to 5% across the state.

Measures taken post-lockdown

To further restrict the movement of individuals, in order to contain the spread of the disease, the state government enforced a state-wide lockdown on March 23. This lockdown, applicable till March 31, involved: (i) closing down of state borders, (ii) suspension of public transport services, and (iii) banning the congregation of more than five people at any public place. Entities engaged in the supply of essential goods and services were excluded from this lockdown.  This was followed by a nation-wide lockdown enforced by the central government between March 25 and April 14, now extended till May 3.  Before the extension announced by the central government, the state government extended the lockdown in the state till April 30.

On April 15, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines on the measures to be taken by state governments until May 3.  As per these guidelines, select activities will be permitted in less-affected districts from April 20 onwards to reduce the hardships faced by people.  Some of the permitted activities are (i) agriculture and related activities, (ii) MNERGA works, (iii) construction activities, (iv) industrial establishments, (v) health services, (vi) certain financial sector activities among others subject to certain conditions. 

Welfare Measures

To address the hardship being faced by residents of the state due to lockdown, the state took several welfare measures summarised as follows:

  • On March 30, the School Education Department issued directions to all schools in the state to postpone the collection of school fees until the lockdown is over.

  • The Department of Tribal Development issued directions to provide food/dietary components at home to women beneficiaries and children under Bharat Ratna Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Amrut Aahar Yojana. 

  • The state government issued directives to the private establishments, industries and companies to pay full salaries and wages to their employees. 

  • On April 7, the state Cabinet decided to provide wheat and rice at a subsidised price to all Above Poverty line ration card holders and Shiv Bhojan at Rs 5 for next three months in all Shiv Bhojan centres.

  • On April 17, the Housing Department notified that landlords/house owners should defer the rent collection for three months.  No eviction will be allowed due to non-payment of rent during this period. 

Administrative Measures

  • On March 29, the public works department issued directions suspending the collection of tolls at PWD and MSRDC toll plazas for goods transport until further direction.

  • MLA Local Development Program:  Under MLALAD program, a one-time special exception to use the MLALAD funds was given to legislators for the purchase of medical equipment and materials for COVID-19 during the year 2020-21.

  • Analysing the impact on the economy of the state:  On April 13, the government constituted an Expert Committee and a Cabinet Sub-Committee to analyse the implications of COVID-19 on the economy of the state. These committees will also suggest measures to revive the economy of the state.

Orders relating to Mumbai city

  • On April 8, the city administration made it compulsory for all people to wear masks in public places. 

  • On April 10, the Commissioner of Police, Greater Mumbai issued an order prohibiting any kind of fake or distorted information on all social media and messaging applications. The order is valid until April 24.

For more information on the spread of COVID-19 and the central and state government response to the pandemic, please see here.