Concerned by growing number of Covid-19 cases, Maharashtra's Yavatmal district ordered a ten-day lockdown from Thursday night. Earlier in the day, a weekend lockdown was announced in Amravati district of the same Vidarbha region from 8 pm on Saturday to 7 am on Monday.

Yavatmal Collector M D Singh said the number of Covid cases in the district was increasing since February 1, and the district has 606 active cases as of Wednesday.

Almost 80 to 90 per cent of new cases were being reported from Yavatmal, Pandharkawda, and Pusad cities, he said. "We have decided to conduct around 500 tests per day in Yavatmal, Pandharkawda and Pusad municipal corporations. Today we are ordering lockdown in Yavatmal district till February 28," Singh said.

Schools, colleges, coaching classes will remain closed and no religious functions will be allowed during this period, while only 50 persons will be allowed at weddings, he said.

In Amravati, markets and other establishments will remain shut from 8 pm on Saturday to 7 am on Monday. However, essential services will remain unaffected, it said.

Collector Shailesh Naval said on weekdays, all establishments, including hotels and restaurants, would stay open only till 8 pm (from earlier 10 pm).

Of late, Maharashtra has been witnessing a steady rise in Covid-19 cases. The state reported 4,787 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest one-day count this year.

Official sources had earlier said the Maharashtra government might impose a stricter lockdown in Yavatmal, Amravati, and Akola cities of Vidarbha region in view of the Covid-19 situation. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his deputy Ajit Pawar discussed the issue on Thursday morning, they said.


Meanwhile, in the light of a rise in COVID-19 cases, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has decided to register offences against people who violate safety guidelines, an official said on Thursday.

The civic body has intensified action against people found without masks in public, and will take action against function halls, gymnasiums and other establishments that don't follow safety norms, the official said.

It has decided to fine function halls, gymnasiums and restaurants if the number of patrons/ attendees is found to be beyond the permissible limit, Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, told PTI.

These establishments will be prosecuted if they continue to flout the norms, he said.

The permissible limit of guests at function halls is 50, while restaurants are allowed to operate with 50 per cent occupancy at any given time.

"We are going to ensure that there is no overcrowding at restaurants, bars, function halls, public gardens, nightclubs and cinema halls," Kakani said.

In a meeting with ward officers and health department officials, BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal ordered deployment of additional marshals on suburban trains and also directed to ramp up testing, an official said.

The civic body has decided to resume stamping of the hands of people who are placed under home quarantine, and in case of violation, an offence will be registered against them.

Similar action will be taken against those who flout the rules at weddings and other social gatherings in the city and BMC teams will raid event venues, he said.

The civic body has also decided to double the number of clean-up marshals, who can impose fine on those who do not wear mask in public, from 2,400 to 4,800.

At least 300 clean-up marshals will be deployed on suburban trains.

Apart from this, the civic body said a seven-day institutional quarantine is mandatory for travelers arriving at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport from Brazil, where a new strain of the virus has been found.

According to official data, the BMC has caught more than 15 lakh people roaming in public without mask and collected over Rs 30.69 crore in fine since April 1, 2020.

Buildings with more than five COVID-19 patients will be sealed, the BMC has decided.

If an asymptomatic patient steps out of house or walks around in a public space before home quarantine period is over, housing societies should inform Ward War Rooms, the civic body said.

Officials at Ward War Rooms should take legal action against such patients and put them under compulsory institutional quarantine, it said.

"If it is found that masks are not being used and more than 50 people are found gathered at the same time, then the concerned persons will be fined. Establishments and management will also be prosecuted," the BMC release stated.

Chahal has directed officials to take punitive action in at least 25,000 cases for violation of norms every day against the current average of 12,500.

"Compared to June-July 2020, the spread of coronavirus in the city is still under control, but with the number of cases on rise, the system needs to be vigilant," the municipal commissioner said.

Teachers from BMC schools will be deployed at all buildings, offices and hospitals managed by the civic body with powers to take punitive action against those roaming without masks.