The Maharashtra government issued new rules making full vaccination—14 days since the second dose—mandatory to board any mode of public transport, not just trains, and for entry into most public places such as malls, shops, gatherings, ticketed or nonticketed events and any establishment where the public has the right to services. It is already mandatory for staffers of these establishments to be fully vaccinated.
The government has also stressed on adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour and decided on penalties for drivers and conductors of public transport and office management in case any person is found violating norms such as wearing of masks. The defaulting individual will be fined too. The full vaccine mandate was earlier restricted to train travel and in some public places such as malls and certain government offices.
Senior officials said the new curbs have been added to push people to get fully vaccinated. Nearly 70% of the eligible population has been covered with the first dose and 40% is fully vaccinated. There are nearly 97 lakh people, though, who are due for their second dose and are yet to take it. BMC chief I S Chahal said the municipal body and the police should take stern action against those who do not wear proper masks. Handkerchief is not a mask and will invite a fine.
Several districts have already put such restrictions in place to increase their vaccination uptake. With the wedding season approaching, the state government has kept the 50% capacity rule for enclosed spaces such as theatres and marriage halls, but they have allowed open to sky venues, including grounds for political rallies and stadiums, to open at 25% capacity. The state also plans to monitor gatherings, which have more than 1,000 people.
Open air lawns which were earlier allowed at a 50% capacity for weddings will halve numbers to 25%. In case total attendance exceeds 1,000, organisers must inform the district disaster management authority which will send its officials to ensure compliance to Covid norms, and in case of violation may order closure of part or the full venue, said the notification. “This notification aims to caution everyone that Covid-19 is still around and people need to be careful. The marriage season is on. Four lakh weddings are expected in Maharashtra alone and 25 lakh in the country. Caution is necessary,” chief secretary Sitaram KunteI said.