COVID-19: Maharashtra govt mulls night curfew ahead of Dahi Handi and Ganpati festival

Sanjay JogUpdated: Sunday, August 29, 2021, 11:13 PM IST
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Mumbai: Days after the Centre’s advisory to Maharashtra for the imposition of additional curbs ahead of Dahi Handi and Ganpati festival due to the possibility of a third wave of Covid-19, Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the government was mulling a night curfew. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray would take a decision in this regard, Tope said. Tope’s announcement came close on the heels of Kerala government’s decision to impose night curfew from 10pm to 6am from Monday in that state in the wake of the sharp rise in cases after Onam celebrations.

“In view of the upcoming festivals in the state, care needs to be taken to avoid virus spread. The Centre’s suggestion will be implemented. However, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will take the final decision in this regard,” he added.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had advised that the state government should consider the imposition and enforcement of local restrictions in public celebrations of upcoming festivals, in view of concerns that such mass gatherings may turn into super-spreader Covid events.

Even though the trajectory of daily new cases has shown a decline over the last month, there are some districts of Maharashtra which are showing early signs of an upsurge in cases and test positivity. “In view of mass events and public gatherings expected during the celebration of upcoming festivals including Dahi Handi and Ganpati Utsav in Maharashtra, it is advised the state may consider imposing and enhancing and enforcing local restrictions in public observation of these festivals and gatherings,” said Bhushan in his letter.

Thackeray last week warned that the government would impose a fresh lockdown in the wake of a rise in cases and if daily oxygen demand exceeded 700MT.

On the ongoing debate over the reopening of schools, Tope said the government was assessing the ground situation and allowing the reopening of schools in areas with no cases. The government would also undertake a special drive for the vaccination of all schoolteachers and non-teaching staff by September 5, Teachers’ Day.

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