Covid surge forces authorities to restrict year-end celebrations | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Covid surge forces authorities to restrict year-end celebrations

ByEeshanpriya MS and Naresh Kamath
Dec 25, 2021 10:02 PM IST

Some Mumbaiites have chosen to attend New Year’s bash outside the Greater Mumbai jurisdiction, even as event planners and commercial party hosts are looking for a last-minute destination outside the city

Mumbai As Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has banned New Year parties and gatherings at all public and commercial places across the city, Mumbaiites have chosen house parties or quiet weekend getaways near Mumbai for New Year celebrations.

On Friday night, BMC issued an order disallowing New Year celebrations in the city. (Satish Bate)
On Friday night, BMC issued an order disallowing New Year celebrations in the city. (Satish Bate)

Some Mumbaiites have chosen to attend New Year’s bash outside the Greater Mumbai jurisdiction, even as event planners and commercial party hosts are looking for a last-minute destination outside the city.

On Friday night, BMC issued an order disallowing New Year parties in the city. Restaurants, bars and pubs, and eateries will still continue to remain open but will have to operate at 50% of the capacity. This comes in light of the recent spread of Omicron cases. To date, 46 Omicron cases have been reported in Mumbai.

Over the past three days, Mumbai has recorded a rise in the number of daily Covid cases. On Saturday, Mumbai reported 731 Covid cases. The trend of increase in daily count started on December 21, Tuesday, when Mumbai reported 312 cases in a day, followed by 480 cases on December 22, 577 cases on Thursday, and 673 on Friday. However, Mumbai on Saturday reported zero deaths, for the sixth time in the month of December.

Regarding curbs on New Year celebration in Mumbai, Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner in charge of the public health department in BMC said, “Restaurants that serve food, and those that also serve alcohol are allowed to remain open on December 31, and operate at 50% capacity, with prior reservation of tables from their customers. If any of them choose to do something special or different- it’s allowed, as long as they do not break the rule of less than 50% of their capacity.”

As large parties are no longer allowed, event planners said their business has been badly affected by the last-minute decision. A city-based event planner, who did not wish to be named, said, “We sold tickets for our event on the internet. Now we have two options, either to refund the money to those who have made the bookings or to shift our venue to a location outside the city.”

Meanwhile, the state and city authorities have also imposed night curfew to curb its transmission.

On Saturday, the state reported 1,485 new Covid cases and two Omicron cases from Aurangabad.

Some of the districts have imposed curbs, while there are plans to impose restrictions at hill stations and weekend spots to prevent crowding. In addition, the state has also ramped up its vaccination drive.

On Friday night, the state government announced a night curfew between 9 pm to 6 am across the state. Recently, the Ahmednagar administration launched the ‘No vaccine, No entry’ order, where those who are unvaccinated are not allowed in various places.

Those who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to enter various public areas, including private establishments, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, auditoriums, marriage halls, government or semi-government offices. The Nashik administration already has this restriction in place.

State surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate said that the restrictions are imposed in view of the surge. “Our first priority is to prevent gatherings as Omicron cases are on the rise. We have instructed the local district authorities to impose curbs according to the local conditions,” said Dr Awate.

There are indications that the popular shrine in Ahmednagar, Shirdi Sai Baba temple, may also impose curbs on the devotees.

Pradeep Shetty, senior vice-president of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), called the night curfew a regressive step.

“After almost two years of sitting at home, citizens were looking forward to welcoming the new year at their favourite restaurants. However, this announcement has come as a dampener,” said Shetty.

Meanwhile, the state government is ramping up the vaccination drive. According to the health department, the second dose of around 10.20-10.30 million people in the state is due and efforts are made to complete their vaccination. Similarly, 5,13,84,885 citizens have been fully vaccinated, that is, approximately 56% of the targeted population of 91.50 million people. The people who have taken the first dose come to 7,95,26,375, which is 86% of the targeted population.

Dr Archana Patil, director, Maharashtra Health Services, said that they are not leaving any stone unturned to vaccinate the people. “We are calling up people, having flexible timings as well as roping in celebrities to ramp up our vaccination drive,” said Dr Patil.

On Saturday, Maharashtra added 1,485 new Covid cases, taking its tally to 66,56,240. It also reported 12 fatalities due to Covid, pushing the death toll to 1,41,416. The positivity rate stood at 1.26% as 1,485 cases were recorded of the total 1,17,793 tests. The active cases in the state stood at 9,102, in which Mumbai leads with 3,703 active cases followed by Pune and Thane at 1,954 and 1,240 respectively.

The death toll stood at 1,41,416 with Pune leading with 19,784 followed by Mumbai with 16,368 and Thane with 11,589.

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