Contrary to what several media outlets have reported, the Mumbai local train services will not be coming to a complete halt from Monday although services will be curtailed for the general public in a bid to mitigate the spread of deadly coronavirus.
Special squads comprising of Government Railway Police (GRP) and state government officials, like revenue officers and health officers, will be deployed at all stations to ensure that people do not travel unnecessarily.
According to an official release by the Konkan divisional commissioner, suburban services in the city will continue to function but only government personnel or people engaged in the provision of essential services would be allowed to travel by local trains.
Apart from those involved in the provision of essential services, others who need urgent medical aid or travelling for emergencies would also be allowed to travel, said the release by divisional commissioner Shivaji Daund.
While government officials will have to produce ID cards, the rest will have to show some documents or proof as to why they are travelling before being allowed to board.
“At every station, the ID card of people will be checked before passengers are allowed to travel,” the release said.
Further, those who are traveling by local train to reach railway terminus for boarding a long-distance train will also be allowed on inspection of their journey tickets.
Also, officials will be deployed at all entry and exit points of all stations and passengers will be screened with a thermal gun to ensure they are not infected.
If anyone shows symptoms of COVID-19, they will be referred to the state health officer, who will take a call on whether the person needs to home quarantine or be sent to medical authorities for further inspection.
The restriction will come into effect from midnight of Sunday, March 22, and will stay in effect till further orders.
The move is aimed at reducing crowding and enforcing social distancing in Mumbai locals, which ferry around 80 lakh passengers every day.
Earlier, both Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Health Minister Rajesh Tope had stated that even though the government was not in favour of shutting local services, it could be forced to do so if crowds did not thin.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra has recorded 64 cases of coronavirus so far, the highest in the country. Of them, at least 19 are from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region alone.
Copy of official release by divisional commissioner
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#Breaking | Mumbai Local Update:
* From midnight March 22, local trains have NOT been stopped
* State govt. has stopped public access to avoid crowding
* Those travelling for emergencies/essential services can travel
* People will be checked & quarantined if required pic.twitter.com/oBwMP1FRW7
— LocalPressCo Mumbai (@LocalPressCo) March 21, 2020