Three more states on Thursday imposed restrictions on people’s movement, economic and religious activities and business establishments, joining several others that have reintroduced lockdown-like curbs as the second wave of the pandemic rages through the country.
While Madhya Pradesh announced weekend lockdowns in all urban areas and a complete lockdown in five districts till 17 April, Tamil Nadu announced a ban on all religious gatherings from 10 April. The Uttar Pradesh government also imposed night curfews in some districts.
There were also reports of migrant workers in some states rushing to their home towns, fearing a complete lockdown like the one imposed by the Centre last year, although the Prime Minister made it clear in a meeting with chief ministers on Thursday that a hard lockdown wasn’t being considered.
Weekend lockdowns have been imposed in parts of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, while Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab , major cities in Gujarat and urban areas of Rajasthan have announced night curfews. Almost all states have limited the capacity of restaurants and bars and banned public events.
On Thursday, the Madhya Pradesh home department imposed a lockdown in five districts. In Chhindwara, the lockdown will come into effect from 6pm on Thursday and remain in force till 6am on 16 April; in Betul, Khargone, Katni and Ratlam, the restrictions will be from 6pm to 6am between 9 April and 17 April.
In Tamil Nadu, two days after voting was held for the assembly elections, chief secretary Rajeev Ranjan banned all religious gatherings and public celebrations for festivals from 10 April. The government also prohibited retail sales in Chennai’s Koyambedu market, which emerged as a covid 19 hotspot in the first wave of infections last year.
The restrictions in the state come after political parties flouted all covid safety protocols, with local health departments, the Union health ministry, and the Election Commission all turning a blind eye.
The chief secretary also reduced the occupancy at eateries by half and directed that all business establishments be shut by 11pm. In addition to these, the state has also ordered that no passengers be allowed to travel standing in buses.
In Tripura, a day after chief minister Biplab Deb tested positive, the state closed all public gyms and recreation centres located in government buildings. Gatherings for sports events, government programmes in public halls and biometric attendance have also been suspended.
The Uttar Pradesh government, meanwhile, has imposed a night curfew in Noida. The state, along with Odisha and Maharashtra, has also restricted the number of people visiting government offices.
As reports of migrant workers leaving Gujarat’s most severely affected districts, Surat and Ahmedabad, emerged, the state government clarified that the numbers of those returning to their home states were not high. “There are no formal reports that suggest that a large number of migrants are leaving. However, we have asked district authorities to ensure that workers do not face any trouble,” news agency PTI reported, citing state additional chief secretary, labour and employment, Vipul Mittra.
In Ahmedabad, a number of migrant workers, mostly hailing from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have been rushing to the city’s Kalupur railway station, said Yogesh Mishra, member of the Zonal Rail Users Consultative Committee.
The migrants are apprehensive they will be stranded if a lockdown is imposed, Mishra said. The waiting list for reserved seats in trains has also risen, he added. The Gujarat high court earlier this week suggested the imposition of a lockdown after a steep rise in cases.
Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has ruled out a lockdown in the state, adding that celebrations for Assamese New Year Rongali Bihu will be held with precautions.