A day after exempting several economic activities and goods transport services after April 20 in some districts of the State, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray while addressing the State on Sunday prohibited door-to-door delivery of newspapers and magazines in Pune and Mumbai while allowing them to continue printing.
“I would like to tell all my brothers from the media that there is no prohibition on newspapers. There is no problem of selling newspapers on stalls but I feel the door-to-door circulation of newspapers in cities such as Pune and Mumbai which comes under red zone should not be allowed. I do not want to argue anything on it. Some may think that this is not a good decision but in the wake of the betterment of the state, this is what I feel. In other areas, a rethink of the decision will be done in the next two to three days,” said Thackeray.
On Saturday, the move regarding the circulation has attracted the rage of the newspapers, journalists, journalist unions and media houses which are already struggling due to the lockdown.
“Print Media is hereby exempted from lockdown from April 20 2020. However given the extent of the spread of COVID-19, door-to-door delivery of newspapers and magazines is prohibited,” a notification signed by Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta issued on Saturday reads.
Thackeray, on Saturday, however, said it was ‘unnecessary confusion’. “While we support its operations and the need to reach out to the people, we also want to ensure the highest safety from a virus that the world is still grappling with. The sale of print media newspapers, magazines and productions are allowed at stalls/ shops already established, as deemed fit by the media houses. We urge the media to refrain from home deliveries,” a statement issued by CMO Maharashtra on Twitter reads.
Uddhav Thackeray said, “However in times of such a pandemic, where we genuinely are in need to reduce footfalls and increase safety, most economical operations are facing tough times. Media has withstood the test of time; truth can never be stifled. We request its cooperation for the same.”
Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray confirmed, “70-75 per cent cases are asymptomatic while, 52 are in serious conditions. Till yesterday, the government has done over 66,800 tests. Over 95 per cent of patients are found negative.”
He also mentioned that lockdown measures in the state would be relaxed in a grouped manner with certain limits. The CM requested people not to venture out even though the commercial activities will be allowed to resume.
He further said, “From tomorrow we’re starting some financial activities. If we don’t run our economy now, we’ll be in financial crisis after coronavirus will end. We’re starting some business activities in a limited way. Many districts in our state have zero positive cases.”
He also stated that Maharashtra had shown a decrease in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The districts in the state are already categorised into red, orange and green zones. He further highlighted that district borders would remain closed.
Lockdown hits print media
The nationwide lockdown amid the novel coronavirus has hit the newspaper industry hard with revenue generated from advertisements are sinking from past few months, and huge input costs are resulting in many media houses into an unprecedented crisis.
Advertisements are considered to be one of the big sources for revenue generation in print media, but due to the lockdown, maximum industries have stopped promotions due to the shutting of activities.
Newspaper vendors, on the other side, have been affected. Many delivery boys fear of COVID-19, also they are not allowed by many societies to deliver the newspapers.
There are multiple small to medium-scaled newspaper running in Maharashtra. Many of them have adjourned publishing. The fear amongst the media owners is if the print industry collapses, it will inevitably affect the allied manufacturing industry too.
This will affect several journalists and their families along with printing presses, newspaper merchants and delivery boys. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already stated that newspapers have high credibility and they play a serious role in creating awareness about the coronavirus outbreak at the national and regional levels.
While print media is putting in their best efforts as many newspapers have already started their copies to undergo a sanitisation process.