Mumbai: Mumbai, the city with the most Covid cases in India, has started taking baby steps towards opening up after being in lockdown for nearly two-and-half months.
Part of this has been allowing citizens to step back outdoors for physical activities like walking, jogging and cycling.
With the threat of cyclone Nisarga, which spared Mumbai of any major impact, passing, several residents have started going on morning and evening walks along beaches, in promenades and public parks as well as on inside roads in residential areas.
“It sounds like I am exaggerating, but it was exhilarating to be able to step out of my building and walk for a long stretch,” said 48-year-old Aruna. P, a resident of Sion who regularly goes on walks, even during Mumbai’s infamously heavy rains.
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Cyclone clears path
Aruna, who first stepped out Wednesday, said there were a lot of people on the road in the evening, after it was clear that the cyclone had passed.
“People were maintaining social distancing norms. But, friends and acquaintances were seeing each other after a long time. We exchanged greetings and enquired about each other’s safety, but that’s about it,” she said.
Around 7 pm, the police started requesting people to go back home.
Although the number of Covid-19 infections continued to rise, the Uddhav Thackeray government permitted people to step out for physical activities such as walking, jogging and cycling from 5 am to 7 pm from Tuesday onwards under its ‘Mission Begin Again’.
According to guidelines, group activities are not permitted, children have to be accompanied by an adult, and everyone must strictly adhere to wearing masks and following social distancing norms. The guidelines apply to the entire state, including red zones. However, containment zones will continue to follow the earlier lockdown guidelines.
Thackeray had on 2 June appealed to people to stay home and continue the previous lockdown norms until the cyclonic storm had passed. The Mumbai Police too had issued prohibitory orders considering the meteorological department’s forecast.
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Social distancing norms hold
Smita Muravne, a 56-year-old resident of Mumbai’s northern suburb of Goregaon, said, “There is a world of a difference between working out in the outdoors and working out at home. During the lockdown, I was running on our building terrace for two months.
“When I stepped out and jogged in the open, I realised I have lost a lot of my stamina. Going out for morning walks, jogs in designated areas is something that should have been allowed even during the lockdown. We need to be physically fit to build up our immunity against the virus.”
Muravne, who runs with her husband, said everyone out for morning walks was following social distancing norms. “No one was walking or running in groups. We all had our masks on, except for when we were running. It is difficult to run with masks on,” she said.
Besides stepping out for physical exercises, the state government has also allowed self-employed individuals such as plumbers and electricians to work from 3 June. Garages have also been allowed to open but will be required to follow an appointment system for customers.
The state will be allowing non-essential shops, excluding shopping malls and market complexes, to open on an odd-even basis from Friday. Private offices will be allowed to function with 10 per cent staff from Monday, 8 June.
Maharashtra so far has recorded 74,860 Covid positive cases, with 2,587 deaths, according to data from the state government. Of these, 39,935 are active cases.
Mumbai alone recorded 43,492 Covid positive cases, with 24,597 active cases.
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