In view of the decline in Covid-19 cases, the Maharashtra government has extended the timings of restaurants and eateries till 12am, while shops have been allowed to function till 11pm from Tuesday onwards. In addition, all preparations are being made for colleges, which are slated to open from Wednesday. Till now, all hotels and shops had to pull their shutters down by 10pm.

Following the order of the Maharashtra government, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) also gave a green light for this move. Meanwhile, restaurants and eateries can continue with delivery of food round-the-clock.

Maharashtra, for the fourth consecutive day, recorded fewer than 2,000 Covid-19 cases (1,638) on Tuesday.

The state government, in its notification, defended the extension, citing the upcoming Diwali season. “In the wake of the upcoming festival season, it is now felt that restrictions imposed on times of functioning for various establishments such as shops, restaurants, hotels, among others, will lead to more crowds in the shorter duration they are currently allowed to function,” cited the notification. It, however, said that all other Covid-19 restrictions will continue to remain.

Hotels and restaurant associations welcomed the move, but are not entirely happy with easing of restrictions. “The additional two hours will provide much-needed succour to the beleaguered hospitality industry. Our sector was the worst affected by Covid-19 restrictions. However, we wish extensions were granted till the pre-Covid deadline of 1.30am,” said Pradeep Shetty, senior vice- president, Hotel & Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI). Similar is the stance of Shivanand Shetty, president, Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association, (AHAR), one of the leading association of hoteliers. “We have almost come to normalcy and hence the original timings should be restored quickly,” said Shetty.

The Chamber of Association of Maharashtra Industries and Trade (CAMIT), which represents the manufacturers and shopkeepers, have welcomed the extension. “It’s good that the state government is gradually opening up as there is still a threat of a third wave,” said Mohan Gurnani, chairman, CAMIT.

On Monday, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had held a series of meetings, including with the members of the Covid-19 task force, to decide further easing of restrictions, in line with the decline in the number of Covid-19 cases.

The state government has also decided to ease the restrictions further as amusement parks, auditoriums and theatres will be opened from October 22.

Mumbai’s tally of new cases was 314, along with four deaths, thus bringing its toll to 16,188. The number of Covid-19 patients right from the outbreak last year has now reached 6,594,820.

There were 132,467 tests done on Tuesday, while the number of recoveries clocked 2,791.

There are currently 26,805 active patients across the state, of which Pune tops with 7,741 patients, followed by Mumbai with 5,521 active patients and Thane with 3,618.

The toll has now reached 139,865, with Pune leading with 19,553 deaths, followed by Mumbai with 16,188 and Thane with 11,407.

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