Days before the fifth phase of the Lockdown comes to an end on June 30, the state government is set to extend a few more industrial-commercial relaxations under its ‘Mission Begin Again’, even as it recorded its highest single-day spike of 4,841 Coronavirus Cases.
An order issued late on Thursday stated that the barbershops, salons, and beauty parlors in 19 municipal corporations earmarked as red zones, will open from June 28, while in the rest of the state they shall open from June 27. The order stated that the establishments can carry out select services like haircuts, hair dyeing, waxing, threading, among others, excluding skin-related services.
The state government has also made it mandatory for employees to wear protective gear such as gloves, aprons and masks, and that the workspace (chair) should be sanitised after every customer.
Making sanitisation of the shop mandatory every two hours, the order said use of disposable towels, napkins is a must. Sterilisation and sanitisation of non-disposable items every time has also been made compulsory. They have also been mandated to entertain customers with prior appointments and putting up the notice describing the rules prominently in the premises.
On Thursday, Maharashtra’s daily fresh infections for the first time crossed the 4,000 marks, taking the tally to 147,741.
Of them, 63,342 are active cases, according to the state health department. The state also reported 192 deaths, taking the toll to 6,931. Mumbai, the worst-hit city across the country, crossed the 70,000 mark for cases with 1,350 new infections, pushing the count to 70,878. The city toll stands at 4,062 after 98 deaths were reported.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray during the cabinet meeting on Thursday said that salons will be allowed to operate from Sunday. Although the cabinet also discussed permitting gymnasiums to open, no final decision has yet been taken on this.
Mumbai’s guardian minister Aslam Shaikh said that the decision over gymnasiums will be taken next week, while the standard operating procedure for salons will be issued in next couple of days.
“We are allowing salons to operate from Sunday, for both genders . Both the customer and the employee will have to wear masks and follow distancing rules. We are allowing these establishments to open, but we will assess the situation and take decisions for further activities,” said transport minister and Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab.
The state government is expected to allow private offices to operate with 25-30% of its staff, up from existing permission of 10% of staff from July 1. The state government, however, is not in any mood to allow train services for non-essential services or operate interstate public transport.
Shaikh said, “Opening of the salon industry, too, was important as the small shopkeepers and their employees are suffering heavy losses and hardship. After a couple of suicides by salon shopkeepers, I had demanded opening of these shops by writing a letter to the CM. The SOP to be issued by the Government will elaborate on the guidelines to be followed by the shops and customers.”
Parab said that the decision about allowing more transport services in the public and private sector will be taken after a meeting of the high-power task force, in consultation with the chief minister and deputy chief minister.
A decision over interdistrict transportation is expected to be taken in the next couple of days. Currently, public transport is allowed within districts in non-red zones areas, which are the areas other than the 19 municipal corporations. The state government is expected to allow intra-district transportation in non-red zones.
Parab said that since local train services for public were not possible to be allowed in near future, they were ensuring adequate transport facilities in the wake of more relaxations to the industrial and commercial activities.
“Additional transport facilities will be required after easing out more restrictions on industrial-commercial activities. We have a consignment of essentials arriving at JNPT, but their offloading is not taking place for want of auxiliary services. The decision over relaxations to industries will be taken in due course. A task force appointed for the transport industry will decide on its operations and safety measures in the wake of Pandemic,” he said.
Containment zones and cities like Mumbai, Thane, and Pune, which have high caseload, may continue with industrial curbs for few more weeks, said an official from the government.