Following a spike in COVID-19 cases in Nagpur, Maharashtra Power Minister Nitin Raut announced on Monday that schools, colleges and coaching centres in the city will remain closed till March 7. Main markets will also remain shut on the weekends, said Raut, who is also the guardian minister for Nagpur.
Further, hotels and restaurants have been allowed to continue functioning, but at 50% capacity. Marriage halls will also be closed till March 7 from February 25.
This comes a day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that religious, social and political gatherings will be prohibited in the state from Monday.
Asking people to follow "COVID-appropriate" behaviour and safety norms, Thackeray said he would observe for a week to 15 days before deciding on imposing another lockdown. "The pandemic is raising its head in the state again, but whether this is a second wave will be known in eight to 15 days," he said in a televised address.
"Wear masks, observe discipline and maintain social distancing to avoid another lockdown," Thackeray told the people of the state.
Till a few days ago, the daily spike of cases was between 2,000 and 2,500, he said. There are 53,000 active cases in the state. Even in cities like Amravati, the spike being witnessed now was not so high when the state saw a peak in COVID-19 cases earlier, he said, adding, "This is alarming."
"We felt that the pandemic is under control and a lot of hard work had gone into bringing it under control," the chief minister said.
"Religious, social and political gatherings will be prohibited in the state from tomorrow. Political agitations with crowd will have to be stopped for some time...All of us need to expand and spread our political base including myself, my allies and the opposition parties. But let us not spread coronavirus," he said.
"In the war against the virus there is no sword as yet but face mask is the only shield. Vaccination has begun. Trials of two more vaccines are on. It is only after that common citizens will get doses," he added.
In Maharashtra, in the last four weeks, the weekly tally shown a rising trend and increased from 18,200 to 21,300. The Mumbai suburban areas have seen a weekly rise in cases by 19%. In Nagpur, Amravati, Nashik, Akola and Yavatmal the weekly cases have increased by 33%, 47%, 23%, 55% and 48%, respectively, the union health ministry noted.
(With PTI inputs)