In a huge dampener ahead of the Christmas-New Year festivities, the Maharashtra government on Monday announced the reimposing of night curfew from December 22, amidst the global scare over the new strain of COVID-19 being detected in the UK.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said the state government has beefed up its defences to tackle the situation, including imposing a night curfew in the jurisdiction of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation and 26 other civic bodies for the next 15 days -- from December 22 till January 5. As per the state government directive, the curfew will be will be enforced in the financial capital between 11 pm and 6 am.
What led to the night curfew?
The decision was taken after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a review meeting at his official residence Varsha here in the light of the situation in the UK.
The BMC commissioner I S Chahal, while addressing a press conference, said the lockdown was put in place as people were found violating COVID-19-related norms at pubs, night clubs and restaurants during recent raids. The civic chief said since November-December is wedding season, there were several complaints about 700 to 800 guests gathering at several marriages, thus violating COVID protocols.
"We are taking these steps as this is not a normal New Year eve. We cannot celebrate as in the past," he said, adding the authorities will take action against those found violating rules framed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Also, the Maharashtra government declared a night curfew in municipal corporation areas from December 22 to January 5 as a precautionary step amid growing concerns over a new coronavirus variant spreading in Britain.
What are the rules?
While explaining the difference between a total lockdown and a night curfew BMC chief IS Chahal said: "Night curfew was enforced in the city from March (when lockdown was announced) to August as well. Night curfew is not a lockdown. There is a difference between a night curfew and a lockdown. In lockdown, individuals cannot step out of their homes. In a curfew, more than five people cannot assemble outside during the specified hours," he said.
Chahal said essential services will remain unaffected during the night curfew, but more than five people cannot assemble at a place during the seven-hour-long period.
New quarantine norms:
As the Maharashtra government declared a night curfew in municipal corporation areas, the Mumbai civic administration moved to enforce restrictions and make arrangements to quarantine air passengers arriving from Britain, where a new COVID-19 variant is spreading fast, and some other countries.
As per the state government estimates, around 1,000 passengers are expected to arrive at the city airport by five flights from the UK till December 22 midnight, BMC chief said. Chahal said all the traveller will be mandatorily kept at institutional quarantine facilities for seven days even if they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms.
Here are new changes implemented due to the night curfew:
The city will be under night curfew for seven hours from 11 pm to 6 am starting from December 22, 2020, until January 5, 2021.
More than five people cannot assemble in public places during the curfew. However, essential services are allowed to operate during the night following the existing norms.
All travellers arriving at Mumbai airport from the UK, Middle East, and European countries would be placed under institutional quarantine, even if they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms.
On arrival, no RT-PCR test will be conducted. However, the RT-PCR test will be conducted during the fifth to the seventh day at the hotels at the cost of the quarantined passengers. If the report of the test is found negative, the passenger would be discharged from the institutional quarantine after five to seven days with the advice of seven-day mandatory Home Quarantine. If the test result is found positive, but the passenger is asymptomatic then he/she will be asked to remain in quarantine in the hotel or in COVID-19 hospital for 14 days.
They will be discharged if their RT-PCR tests, to be conducted on the fifth or seventh day of their quarantine period, is negative.
Air passengers hailing from Pune, Nagpur, and other parts of the state won't be allowed to go home directly, and will have to stay in institutional quarantine even if they do not show any COVID-19 symptoms.
Passengers arriving from the USA, South Asia, and other countries will be stamped on their hands and put in home quarantine after undergoing RT-PCR tests at the airport.
Temporary institutional quarantine facilities near airports and hotels would be arranged by the municipal commissioners.