As people gear up to welcome 2021, the Maharashtra government has urged citizens to celebrate within the confines of their homes and refrain from unnecessarily travelling at night.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Wednesday said that hotels, restaurants, pubs, and bars in Maharashtra will remain open till 11 PM on December 31.
Speaking to reporters, he said the gathering of five or more people at public places is prohibited, but there are no restrictions on people stepping out for the purpose of buying medicines, and visiting friends and relatives (after 11 PM in view of the night curfew).
He said local authorities have been authorised to ensure that the pandemic-related restrictions are enforced in hill stations where New Year revellers gather in large numbers.
"Hotels, restaurants, pubs, and bars will remain open December 31 till 11 pm. There is no restriction on people stepping out to buy medicines and visiting friends and family members (after 11 PM). Gathering of five or more people at public places is prohibited," Deshmukh said and appealed to people to follow guidelines.
The state government had clamped a night curfew between 11 PM and 6 AM from December 22 to January 5 after a new strain of the virus was found in the UK.
On December 28, the state government had come out with an advisory on New Year’s Eve celebrations, in which it had asked people to celebrate in a simple manner within the confines of their homes.
“On December 31, people should not congregate in large numbers at beaches, parks, and public places. Care should be taken to maintain social distancing,” the guidelines stated.
Meanwhile, Mumbai police on Wednesday announced a slew of restrictions on gatherings and celebrations on New Year's eve in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press release issued late in the night, the police pointed out that the Maharashtra government has already issued guidelines related to New Year's eve and called for low-key celebrations.
Gatherings in restaurants, bars, and pubs will not be allowed post-11 pm, the police said, adding loudspeaker/DJ music beyond permissible decibel limit and fireworks are also prohibited.
Violators of the prohibitory order issued under section 144 of the CrPC would face action under section 188 (disobeying the order of public servant) of the IPC and section 51 of the National Disaster Management Act.
A police official told news agency PTI that citizens can travel, subject to a maximum of four persons per four wheeler and there will be no restriction on visiting friends, relatives, and public places, but not in a group of more than 4 persons.
Essential services will continue to operate and activities exempted by the state government will be permitted, the police said.
Heavy deployment of force has been planned for monitoring celebrations and crowd control. Nakabandis (road blockades) will be set up to regulate traffic and action will be taken for drunken driving, the police warned.
(Inputs from PTI)