India’s financial capital is shutting down all its offices. Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday ordered that all workplaces in Mumbai, and in the greater Mumbai Metropolitan Region as well as in Pune, Nagpur and Pimpri Chinchwad will remain closed till March 31 to rein in the spread of novel coronavirus.
The chief minister, beefing up precautionary measures, also announced the mandatory closure of all shops till the end of the month. Only essential services, including medical stores, grocery and milk stores, as well as banks, will be allowed to stay open.
While all private companies have been told to let employees work from home, government offices in the state will function with 25 per cent staff strength.
“We have now decided that only 25 per cent government staff will work. Except essential goods, please close down all other shops. We are shutting down all offices, shops till March 31. All those who feel that work from home is not possible, we have to forcibly shut them. We are left with no alternative. It is essential to stay at home for living. For us, the health givers are fighting a brutal war,” he said.
Maharashtra has reported the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country at 52 so far, including one death. Five of the patients have been cured.
In his address, Thackeray warned that if these stringent measures too fail to curb the spread of the virus, the government may be forced to stop public transport like buses and trains to restrict people’s movement.
“Please understand, this is not a holiday given for you to go out for merry-making. It is your responsibility to stay home. If we see that trains, buses will have to be closed for restricting people’s movement, we will be forced to shut them down. But I am sure, Maharashtra’s people are responsible. They will fight this battle by staying at home,” Thackeray said.
The CM emphasized the need for people to stay at home and only step out in emergencies. “We are taking these measures for your well-being. People may or may not like it. But it is the need of the hour,” he said.
While talking about the reasons for not shutting down trains and buses, the CM said the government was advised to halt these services because they get crowded.
“But these are our vessels. It is easy to close them. But the staff which provides essential services, what will happen to them? How will the doctors, sisters, compounders, other health givers travel? Even the BMC staffers, the cleanliness workers, ambulance drivers take the trains and buses. So we will not close down these two services,” he said.
Highlighting the challenges ahead, he appealed to people to act with humanity. “The next challenge will be financial. Act with humanity. Give minimum wages to those who are being forced to stay at home,” he appealed.