Maharashtra to lift restrictions cautiously

Amid some confusion, districts to be divided into five levels based on TPR and bed occupancy

The Maharashtra government on Thursday said that it has finalised a plan to unlock the State by dividing its districts into five levels based on the coronavirus test positivity rate (TPR) and occupancy of oxygen beds. The local administration will be submitting reports based on this to the State headquarters, following which directions on lifting restrictions and unlocking will be announced.

The announcement comes amid confusion after the State’s Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Vadettiwar held a press conference declaring 18 districts with a test positivity rate of less than 5% and oxygen bed occupancy of less than 25% to undergo a complete unlock. He had made the announcement after the meeting of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The Chief Minister’s Office, however, intervened and issued a clarification saying no restrictions had been lifted. “The proposal for the same is being considered. We will be taking complete information from the district headquarters and local administrations. Only based on that final decision will be taken,” said the clarification.

As per the proposal, Levels 1 to 5 would mean Level 5 regions were in the red zone. Level 1 includes areas with less than 5% positivity rate and less than 25% oxygen bed occupancy. For Level 2 and Level 3, test positivity rate would be less than 5% and between 5-10%, respectively; while oxygen bed occupancy would be 25-40% and 40-60%, respectively. For Level 4 and 5, the positivity rate is between 10-20% and over 20% respectively, and occupancy is 60-75% and more than 75%, respectively.

Mr .Vadettiwar, who had left Mumbai for Nagpur after his press conference announcing the unlock, said after reaching his destination that he had forgotten to mention there had been an “in principle approval” to the proposal.

“I forgot to mention that the proposal for unlock has received in principle approval. Final decision will be taken by the Chief Minister as he is head of the government,” he said, adding that media had wrongly used the word “unlock”, which he had never intended. “Unlock will not be decided by a single person. It will be in a phase wise manner,” he said.

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