The Pune district administration on Friday announced new restrictions in order to control the surge of the coronavirus pandemic, reported the Hindustan Times. The new curbs are aimed at restricting the operation of business establishments at night, movement of public and crowding.

Hotels and restaurants will be allowed to remain open till 10 pm, operating at 50% seating capacity. The owners will have to display the number of people seated inside at any given time. Mall and multiplexes will not be allowed to operate after 11 pm.

Schools and colleges in the district will remain closed till March 31. Pune divisional commissioner Saurabh Rao said that the administration will ensure that the preparations for students for Class 10 and 12 board exams will not be affected by the restrictions, reported PTI.

The district administration has also imposed restriction on public movement between 11 pm and 6 am. However, the administration is not calling it a curfew, saying that citizens will not be permitted to roam around the roads unnecessarily.

Further, parks will remain shut in the evening but morning strolls are permitted. Only 50 people will be allowed at weddings and funerals and other political and social events. Rao said that strict action will be taken against those violating the rules.

The Pune district on Thursday registered 2,840 new coronavirus cases, pushing the tally to 4,28,344. There are 18,474 active coronavirus cases – the highest in any districts in India, according to the Hindustan Times.

The decision to impose fresh restrictions was taken during a meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is also the guardian minister of the district.

Rao said that the authorities also had a detailed discussion on the coronavirus vaccination in Pune city. “As Pune city is witnessing a rise in active cases and daily count of infections is also high, the authorities plan to send a proposal to the Centre seeking a policy decision to inoculate people above the age of 18 in Pune, as an exception,” the divisional commissioner said.

Rao said that if the Centre allocates additional vaccines, the preparedness of the local administration to inoculate the citizens will also be reviewed. “According to the experts, if we inoculate people above 18 in Pune, we will be able to bring down the second wave of the pandemic here,” he said.

The divisional commissioner also said that a decision has been taken to increase the number of institutional isolation centres and to monitor those in home isolation closely.

Pawar told reporters that the curbs were introduced as people were not following coronavirus-related protocols. When asked about the vaccination drive in Pune, the deputy chief minister also voiced the divisional commissioner’s views that more Covid-19 vaccine shots would be needed if citizens above 18 years of age have to be inoculated.

“I have asked Pune MP Girish Bapat and Maval MP Shrirang Barne to raise this issue in Parliament,” he said. “I will also ask MPs like Amol Kolhe, Supriya Sule to raise the issue.”

The deputy chief minister also said the district has an adequate number of beds in hospitals for the treatment of the coronavirus.

Maharashtra is the worst-affected state by the pandemic in the country. Maharashtra, along with Kerala, accounted for 71.69% of India’s total active cases, the health ministry said on Friday.

On Thursday, the state recorded 14,317 new coronavirus cases – the highest daily infection count this year – pushing the tally in the state to 22,66,374. Maharashtra also reported the maximum number of deaths, registering 57 fatalities. The toll stood at 52,667. The state has more than 1 lakh active cases and 1,09,38,146 recoveries.

From the beginning of the pandemic, Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases in the country. While infections did drop for some time in September and October, they have surged again over the last few weeks. This has prompted authorities in various districts of the state to reimpose restrictions.

On Thursday, a complete lockdown was imposed in Nagpur from March 15 to March 21. Nagpur city had reported 1,513 coronavirus cases on Wednesday. All shops and establishments, except those which offer essential services, will be shut during this period, state minister Nitin Raut said.

Authorities in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district had on Tuesday imposed a “janata curfew” to be implemented between 8 pm on March 11 and 8 am on March 15. Thane district had on Monday announced a lockdown in 16 coronavirus hotspots till the end of the month to combat a surge in infections.

In February, fresh restrictions were also imposed in Yavatmal and Amravati districts to control the spread of the infection.