India World

126 million people in India’s Maharashtra state face tighter restrictions amid COVID surge

Tighter restrictions were imposed in the Indian state of Maharashtra affecting over 126 million people from Monday following a sharp spike in the number of coronavirus infections.

On Monday, India reported over 100,000 daily infections of which more than half of those were in Maharashtra, which has India’s largest city Mumbai as its capital.

Maharashtra is already under Covid restrictions that include a ban on public gatherings.

But now, from Monday, there will be a night time curfew from 20:00 to 07:00 local time.

On weekends, there will be a full lockdown starting at 20:00 on Fridays and going through till 07:00 on Mondays. Only essential businesses can operate during this time.

Public transport will still run, but cinemas and playgrounds will be shut. Shops, bars and restaurants will be open only for take-away and parcel services only.

Government office buildings have been told to operate at 50% capacity, with people to work from home if possible. These restrictions will last until 30 April, the government said.

India has had the third highest number of cases after the US and Brazil.

The situation seemed to be stabilising in January, with fewer than 15,000 daily infections. But cases began to spike again in March largely because of poor test-and-trace and lax safety protocols.

Experts say India’s second wave is being fuelled by people being less cautious – and mixed messaging by the government.

As the infections fell, a sense of complacency set in and after being cooped up in their homes for nearly a year, many Indians began attending big weddings and family functions and started visiting crowded marketplaces.

Thousands have also participated in large election rallies in several states where regional elections are being held.