Maharashtra allows extension of timings for hotels and restaurants

The Maharashtra government on Monday decided to extend shop timings till 11 pm and restaurants till 12 am.

It also decided to allow amusement parks to resume operations from October 22. However, water rides in these parks will remain suspended.

The decisions were taken after a meeting of the state Covid task force, which gave the final green signal to allow shops to operate till 11 pm and restaurants till 12 am in Maharashtra. Under the present rules, shops and restaurants are allowed to operate till 10 pm.

The directives are expected to be issued by Thursday.

The decision on opening swimming pools to the public will be taken next week.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackery held a meeting with the Covid task force on Monday, where the decision to extend timings of restaurants and shops was taken amid flattening of the Covid curve.

Maharashtra, Maharashtra CM, Navaratri, Places of worship reopen, Uddhav Thackeray, Indian express, Indian Express news, Mumbai news, Maharashtra news, current affairs Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. (File)

“We had anticipated that after Ganesh Chaturthi and Navratri, we would witness a spike in Covid-19 cases, but as the positivity rate is still below 1%, we have decided to further relax the restrictions. The task force has unequivocally given a go-ahead to keep shops open till 11 pm and restaurants till 12 am,” said a senior officer from the state public health department.

The state force will hold another meeting next week to decide on guidelines for opening swimming pools. “We will take a final call in our next meeting. As people can’t wear masks while swimming, we will have to work on the guidelines to ensure the safety of swimmers. Mostly the swimming pools will be allowed to function with 50% occupancy,” the officer added.

Doctors welcomed the move, but they also cautioned the public about maintaining Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

Dr Vasant Nagvekar, infectious disease consultant at Global Hospital, Parel, and a member of the task force said, “Possibly further relaxations are to be announced for restaurants and shopkeepers. So, the public is requested to follow Covid safety protocols like maintaining social distance and compulsory masking to avoid any sudden spike in cases. Also, it is imperative that people get fully vaccinated.”

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope (File)

Recently, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope had stated that people with one vaccination shot are likely to be allowed to enter malls and travel in trains after Diwali. But the Covid task force has disagreed with the proposal.

“We need to encourage people to get fully vaccinated by taking both shots. If we allow this, it may affect the vaccination process. Rather, we should demand to reduce the time gap of 12-16 weeks between the two shots to lessen the hardship of beneficiaries with one jab,” said a member of the task force.

Sherry Bhatia, president of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), welcomed the move to extend the timing of restaurants. He said, “The closing time of 10 pm, though forced by prevailing circumstances, was impractical for both restaurants as well as diners. A large number of restaurants and hotels closed down during this time, and an estimated 25 lakh people lost their jobs. We hope restaurants will be allowed to operate till 1.30 am.”