BMC orders private offices to shut; eateries to cap occupancy at 50%

Civic chief’s directive follows Uddhav’s announcement

Soon after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray declared that all private offices and establishments, barring those providing essential services, will remain shut till March 31, Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi on Friday issued a formal order to this effect.

As there was ambiguity over operation of restaurants and eateries after the CM’s press conference, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has allowed restaurants, cafes, eateries and dhabas to continue to operate if they can ensure 50% occupancy and maintain a distance of three feet between customers.

The civic chief has also exempted manufacturing companies which require continuity of process or will suffer technical issues or heavy losses, from these restrictions. Such companies can work at 50% staff strength.

Under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the State has empowered municipal commissioners to issue orders in their respective areas to curb the spread of COVID-19. Until Thursday, Mr. Pardeshi had ordered shops to be shut on alternate days and private establishments to work at 50% or less staff strength. As these orders are now irrelevant following the CM’s directive, Mr. Pardeshi issued another order on Friday. “All privates, corporates and establishments to be completely shut down,” the order said.

The BMC has also exempted IT and IT-enabled services and data centres needed for continuity of IT services to essential services, ongoing infrastructure development projects for water, sewage, transportation and roads, and the stock exchange, clearing corporation, depositories, stock brokers and SEBI-registered participants operating through these institutions.

Foreign consulates have been allowed to decide for themselves whether to close operations. Others exempted include production, transportation and supply chain, and e-commerce of all essential goods, including food, pharmaceuticals, pest control and medical equipment, warehousing of all essential food, groceries and grain.

A civic official said, “The exemption for manufacturers is applicable to companies like chemical or pharmaceutical companies, where shutting down manufacturing can lead to heavy losses, long time to restart heavy machinery, disintegration of raw material or chemicals, or things that can lead to large-scale problems. They are exempt, but can only operate on 50% staff strength.”

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