The Maharashtra disaster management department is in favour of allowing people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel in local trains in Mumbai, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Thursday. However, a final decision would be taken by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Mr Tope told a TV channel before a meeting called by the Chief Minister with the state COVID-19 task force.
So far, only people engaged in essential and emergency services, as categorised by the government, are allowed to travel in local trains as part of the state’s efforts to check the spread of COVID-19.
“To keep the wheels of the economy moving in Mumbai, the state disaster management has expressed its opinion in favour of allowing people who have taken both the doses of vaccine to board local trains. Some experts have also suggested increasing the timings of shops and other services beyond 4 pm (the current restriction time),” Mr Tope said.
“It is a bit difficult to verify whether people travelling in local trains have actually received both the doses or not,” he pointed out.
The minister said a plan regarding the same can be worked out with the help of railway authorities.
“Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has invited suggestions and recommendations from various departments while reviewing the lockdown-like restrictions in the state,” he said.
Mr Tope said in 11 districts of the state (out of total 36), the positivity rate is higher than the state’s average and the infection spread is also more. These include Beed, Ahmednagar and districts from Konkan and western Maharashtra.
Asked about factors which were a deterrent for the Maharashtra government from introducing more relaxations in curbs, Mr Tope said the UK, Australia and some countries of the European Union have reported onset of the third wave of COVID-19.
“Many countries have introduced lockdown again to contain the (infection) spread. The same challenges are before us well,” he said.
Mr Tope appealed to people, especially from rural areas, to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccination reduces severity of the disease and also sharply reduces mortality (due to COVID-19), the health minister said.
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