Mumbai beaches and night clubs to be shut? As COVID-19 cases rise, Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh hints at new restrictions

As Mumbai has in the past few days witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases, Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh said that the government may have to shut places like beaches, Gateway of India and other places where people gather in the evening.

He also said that there is a possibility of closure of night clubs if the numbers continue to rise.

Shaikh added that the local authorities are empowered to take decision on lockdown as and when it is necessary.

Thane city's civic body Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) has imposed lockdown in 16 hotspot areas in the city.

Earlier on Monday, Shaikh had warned that if COVID-19 cases don't reduce in Mumbai, the administration will have to consider imposing a partial lockdown. His remarks comes in the wake of a huge surge in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra.

Shaikh told TOI that the option of imposing a partial lockdown in Mumbai was discussed at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. He said that the CM expressed concern that active cases have gone back to the peak ranges seen in September last year.

The Guardian Minister said that the government will first try to control the infection by implementing measures like imposing fines for not wearing a mask or crowding at marriage halls and pubs. Institutional quarantine could be one option and increasing testing and speeding up vaccination programmes on a mass level could be other options. "Finally a partial lockdown could be imposed if cases continue to increase," Shaikh added.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the COVID-19 situation in the state is alarming. "We have to take strict measures. Lockdowns can be imposed if required for some districts. We have empowered the district administrations to decide on lockdowns," Tope told NDTV. "People need to adhere to rules. We can increase the penalty for non-adherence," he added.

Maharashtra on Monday reported 8,744 new infections. The caseload in the state rose to 22,28,471, while the death toll reached 52,500 with 22 fatalities, a health department official said.

Mumbai city reported 1,014 new cases increasing its tally to 3,34,583. With four deaths, the death toll in the country's financial capital reached 11,508.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), which includes Mumbai city and satellite towns, reported 1,770 new coronavirus cases, taking the cumulative caseload to 7,42,120 while the fatality count stood at 19,890.

On Sunday, Maharashtra had reported 11,141 new infections. This was the highest single-day surge since October 16, when the state had reported 11,447 cases.

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