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Amid a massive surge in Covid-19 cases in the state, Maharashtra government on Sunday ordered to impose complete lockdown next weekend from 8 pm on Friday to 7 am on Monday, said NCP minister Nawab Malik. Essential services and transportation including buses, trains, taxis will be permitted, he added.

Along with that, the state government also extended the night curfew in the state. The night curfew will be put in place from 8 pm to 7 am. Anyone breaking the rules will be fined 500 rupees, said government officials. The fresh curbs are expected to be in place till April-end, until further orders.

To recall, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had earlier instructed officials to impose a state-wide night curfew from Sunday, March 28, to curb rising cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Today, Malik said that night curfew will continue and prohibitory orders issued under section 144 will be force during the day time during the week.

In order to mitigate the spread of the virus, Maharashtra Minister Aslam Shaikh said that in the coming days, there is a possibility of a lockdown-like situation on Saturdays and Sundays. "There will be a restriction on visiting open spaces including garden, beaches, Gateway of India and other places on weekends," he added, according to news agency ANI.

Only essential services will be permitted. Restaurants are permitted only for take away and parcel services. For offices, employees will have to work from home. The detailed SOP will be released soon, informed Shaik.

Under the lockdown, state will shut down malls, cinema halls, bars and restaurants. Salons, beauty parlours will also remain closed.

The decision was announced after Thackeray chaired a cabinet meeting virtually today, where the authorities and other ministers of the state discussed the covid-19 situation.

Transportation will permit passengers to travel based on their seating capacity. Rickshaw, Taxi and personal vehicles will commute with 50% seating capacity, added officials.

Industries and production sector, vegetable markets will function with Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) and construction sites will operate if there is accommodation facility for workers, Malik added.

Theatres, drama theatres will be shut, while film and television shootings will continue if there is no crowding. Parks and playgrounds will also be closed, he said.

Religious places will have to follow the SoPs, Malik said, adding that that public transport system will remain functional.

Earlier today, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut told reporters that Maharashtra is witnessing a spike in COVID-19 cases as testing is being conducted on a large scale.

"The main reason behind a large number of COVID-19 patients in Maharashtra is that the testing is being conducted on a large scale. That is not happening in other states. For that Maharashtra is being appreciated.... even the world is appreciating us," said Raut while addressing media.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting on Sunday to review the COVID-19 situation and the vaccination programme amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

During the meeting, PM directed that central teams consisting of public health specialists and clinicians be sent to Maharashtra in view of high caseload and deaths, and likewise to Punjab and Chhattisgarh because of the disproportionate number of deaths being reported there, Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.

Earlier, Uddhav had said he could not rule out a second lockdown to combat the spike in coronavirus cases in the state.

Addressing the people of the state, Uddhav said, "I cannot rule out imposing a lockdown if the current COVID-19 situation prevails. People have become complacent."

On Saturday, Uddhav had also warned that rising daily demand for oxygen cylinders would soon force him to divert those meant for industrial use as well. Last week the Mumbai civic body BMC warned of a shortage of beds as it prepped for a potential 10,000 new cases per day.

Maharashtra reported 49,447 fresh COVID-19 cases, the highest rise in a day so far, taking the tally to 29,53,523 while 277 fatalities pushed the toll to 55,656, the state health department said.

Mumbai city also registered 9,108 new infections, the highest spike in a single day.

Previously, Maharashtra had recorded the highest number of 24,619 cases in a day on September 17, 2020.

With 1,84,404 new tests, the total number of samples tested so far in Maharashtra rose to 2,03,43,123, the department said.

India on Sunday recorded 93,249 new coronavirus infections, the highest single-day rise so far this year, which took the total COVID-19 cases to 1,24,85,509, according to Union health ministry data.

This is the biggest daily rise in cases since September 19, when 93,337 fresh infections were recorded.

The death toll climbed to 1,64,623 on Sunday with 513 new fatalities, the ministry data updated at 8 am showed.

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