MUMBAI: "COVID-19 has not vanished, the danger of contracting the virus is still lurking upon us," said Iqbal Singh Chahal, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner, after yet another pub in the city was found violating COVID-19 norms. The civic body on Sunday late night, fined four hotels pubs and lounge in the city, filed FIR against one of them.
The civic body collected Rs. 43,200 as fine from those caught not wearing masks, a show-cause notice was issued to all four hotels/pubs for operating beyond the permissible time limit.
With the number of COVID-19 cases dipping, there has been a surge in late-night parties across Mumbai. With Christmas and New Year approaching, these parties have become a cause of concern for BMC.
The BMC has been getting reports of invitations for such late-night parties being circulated through social media groups. After several complaints of bars, hotels, clubs and restaurants remain open beyond permissible limits and were found flouting SoPs, the BMC has decided to keep a vigil to ensure strict compliance of COVID-19 guidelines by these establishments. The civic body has deployed teams/squads to check compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs), COVID-19 safety protocol especially ahead of Christmas and New Year's Eve.
While the hotels/night clubs have been found operating beyond permissible time limit during these raids, the patrons/customers were seen openly flouting social distancing norms, and not wearing facemasks. The BMC fears that this could lead to spike in the number of coronavirus cases reported in Mumbai, once again.
On late Sunday night, the civic body raided a pub Bombay Adda in Santacruz flouting COVID-19 rules and SoPs issued by the civic body. According to civic officials, the pub was found operating post midnight. The civic body has registered an FIR against the owner and management of Bombay Adda and slapped penalties on those who violated the coronavirus norms and were caught without face masks. The BMC also distributed masks among them. "There was gross violation at Bombay Adda Pub. Some 275 patrons were seen without masks past midnight," an official said. Offenders at Bombay Adda were fined Rs 30,000 (in total).
Apart from Bombay Adda in Santacruz, Pritam Hotel in Dadar was raided at 1 am, and 120 patrons and staffers were found violating the norms. Some 90 people were fined at Rude Lounge in Malad, and another 90 were fined at Bhagwati Hotel in Kandivali. While a show-cause notice was issued to all four hotels/pubs, FIR was registered against Bombay Adda.
On December 10, the BMC had raided Epitome, a nightclub in Lower Parel, where approximately 1000 people were reportedly partying, according to BMC chief, however, the information of raid was leaked and many left the spot.
The BMC has said that they will also review the situation in nightclubs till December 20, and if nightclubs and restrobars continue to flout COVID-19 rules, night curfew will be imposed.
Chahal said that the civic body is "really worried the way youngsters have been partying, giving safety protocols a backseat. We are strongly against night curfew, but citizens should not create havoc around Christmas and New Year and force the authorities to impose it. The danger of COVID-19 is still lurking upon us. Cases might spike if we disregard safety protocols in this manner."