Mumbai allows doubling of daily arrivals and departures to 50 flights each; local trains for essential duty staff baby steps towards normalcy
As coronavirus cases continue to pile up with Maharashtra with the state reporting a total of 1,10,744 cases as of Tuesday, Mumbai is gradually opening up with the railways resuming suburban train services in Mumbai for ferrying essential staff from Monday. Not only local trains, but the city has also opened up its airports from Tuesday with AAI-GVK group operated Mumbai Airport set to handle 100 departures and arrivals, reports PTI.
Even as coronavirus cases continue to pile up in Maharashtra with the state reporting a total of 1,10,744 cases as of Tuesday, Mumbai is seen gradually opening up with the railways resuming suburban train services for ferrying essential staff from Monday.
Not only local trains, but the city has also increased its air traffic with the number of arrivals and departures in Mumbai raised from 25 to 50 each from Tuesday, reports PTI.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Mumbai airport, which is the second busiest airport in the country, used to handle a little over 1,000 departures and arrivals per day, reports PTI. But now, with 100 flights set to operate from today, this increases the number of people exposing themselves to the virus with no social distancing norms on flights.
Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) is permitted to cater to a total of 100 domestic commercial passenger flight movements which include 50 departures and 50 arrivals, starting 16 June, MIAL said in a statement on Monday.
Although airlines have been working to ensure that passengers are told that air travel is the safest mode of transport due to its controlled access and passenger tracking possibilities at arrival and departure terminals. Less than one percent of the people who flew since 25 May have been detected to have COVID-19, reports The Hindu.
The steps to re-open the city's transportation lines comes even as Mumbai reported 1,067 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the city’s total of COVID-19 positive patients to 59,293, as of Monday.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led government which allowed offices to function with 10-15 percent staff on 8 June, saw huge crowding on the roads and in buses, with the public defying social distancing norms. This prompted the state to request the Centre to allow the resumption of local train services. Around 1.25 lakh essential services staff are expected to travel by these trains on a daily basis.
Even though most of the restrictions have come with advisories asking people to stay indoors and maintain social-distancing, the city has permitted cab aggregators like Uber, Ola to operate with two passengers along with the drivers. For two-wheelers, only one rider is allowed.
BMC also allowed shops to stay open for the full working hours for six days a week, except for market complexes and malls. However, shops will remain closed on Sundays. Earlier, shops were allowed to stay open till 5.00 pm only.
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) also started operating 250 more buses in Mumbai in addition to 1,800 from the second week of June. The move was allowed so that employees of government, private sectors as well as those who are self-employed can also travel in these buses.
The state government recently allowed inter-district movement of people within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) without any passes.
Maharashtra government has allowed cycling, jogging, running and walking in public places including beaches, playgrounds and neighbourhood parks from 5 am to 7 pm. However, group activities will remain prohibited.
A viral image from 6 June showed a large number of people walking Marine Drive wearing masks but however, not adhering to the norms of social distancing, sending social media into a frenzy as citizens expressed their concern regarding the careless attitude of the people and the spread of the coronavirus in the city.
Even as the city opens up its trains, offices, airport, the risk of the virus is pertinent. Even Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray agrees to the risk involved. Just last week the chief minister said that the COVID-19 threat still persists though restrictions have been partially eased to allow the resumption of business and other activities.
Urging people to avoid crowding and maintain physical distancing post easing of lockdown norms under "Mission Begin Again'', he reiterated his reason for the resumption of suburban train services in Mumbai was for the movement of staff on essential services duty only.
Thackeray also hinted that the coronavirus-induced lockdown, currently in force till 30 June, will have to be extended if guidelines related to it are not followed strictly by people.
"The virus threat still persists but we need to start economic activities. Outdoor physical activity has been allowed for your good health and not to spoil it," he said, referring to reports of people crowding on the roads after the restrictions were eased. The chief minister said people should follow coronavirus-related protocols for their own good.
"Lockdown will have to continue if this (non-adherence of norms) happens. But I am confident people will listen to the government's rules and guidelines since it is taking care of their welfare," he said.
With inputs from agencies
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