“We cannot afford lockdown. We have asked the CM to consider other options. Due to rising cases, he has directed administration to prepare for lockdown but that does not mean that lockdown is inevitable,” Malik was quoted as saying by ANI.
The Maharashtra minister added that a lockdown can be avoided if the people follow rules and social distancing norms.
On Sunday, Thackeray went into a huddle with the state task force and asked Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte to immediately draw up a strategy for the “last resort” of a lockdown.
“The government was trying hard to keep the economy afloat amid the pandemic. However, several factors are not being considered seriously, ”Thackeray said at the meeting, which was also attended by public health minister Rajesh Tope and the chief secretary.
“Ultimately, people’s health is our top priority. Hence, the chief secretary should plan a lockdown strategy to ensure that the supply of essential commodities, including food grain and medicines, and health services are not hampered. This is what we have to do if people are not following the (Covid) norms, ”he said.
Maharashtra has been reporting an alarming rise in coronavirus cases over the last few days.
On Sunday, the state had reported a record 40,414 new infections. The figures dipped slightly on Monday with Maharashtra reporting 31,643 new cases. However, this is likely due to low testing on weekend.
‘Lockdown not a solution’
Meanwhile, the state BJP has said that the lockdown is not a solution to curb the Covid situation and warned of protests if the Maharashtra government goes ahead with the decision.
“Lockdown is not the solution. We will protest against lockdown. If lockdown is imposed then the government should announce a package to people affected by lockdown,” Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil told reporters.
Senior BJP leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Amar Sable alleged that Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government has failed to control the second wave of Covid-19 in the state.
Speaking to ANI, Sable said, “The second wave of Covid-19 in Maharashtra has caused havoc. At this time, saving the lives of people and giving relief to the public should be the biggest priority of the government but, unfortunately, that is not happening. ”
(With inputs from agencies)