MUMBAI • India's industrial hub of Maharashtra state eased Covid-19 restrictions in most districts yesterday, including in the financial capital of Mumbai, after a steady decline in new cases.
Shops, malls and parks were allowed to open for longer hours and offices were allowed to operate at full capacity. However, cinemas, schools and places of worship will remain closed, according to a state government notice.
Maharashtra has been the worst-affected state in India's Covid-19 outbreak, accounting for more than six million of the 31.7 million cases.
At the peak of a second wave of infections driven by the Delta variant in April and May, the state authorities imposed restrictions on movements and allowed only essential shops to open.
But as cases have declined in recent weeks, there has been pressure on the authorities to ease the restrictions. Mumbai's suburban train network, that ferries more than eight million people a day, remained shut as fears of a new outbreak loomed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has warned states not to open up too fast.
India reported 30,549 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, the government said, the lowest in two weeks, but many health experts are wary about new surges with the vaccination rate still low.
"Our models currently predict that the infections are now likely to be rising again with a small bump, and not a towering peak towards the end of this month," Dr Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, was quoted as saying by the Print, an online news publication. "But the more prominent third wave peak appears to be on the horizon some time around November," Dr Mukherjee said.
India has been the second-most hard-hit country in the world, with its 31.7 million Covid-19 infections, trailing only the United States. India has had 425,195 deaths.