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'No large gatherings on New Year', HC orders compliance of COVID-19 protocols

 A division bench comprising of the Calcutta HC has directed the West Bengal Government to ensure that all Covid-19 safety protocols are followed and there is no large gathering in the city for celebrations on the New Year’s eve, which could lead to a spike in the coronavirus infections.


Celebrations in Kolkata have come under the scanner of the Calcutta High Court, even as some major cities in India have put restrictions to control the crowd on the night of December 31 to check any further spread of Covid-19.


This also comes at a time when the new coronavirus strain, which surfaced in the UK and was reported to be spreading faster, has been detected in at least 20 passengers who returned to India from Britain.


On Monday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had told officials not to let down guard and be prepared to tackle the second wave, which might be triggered by the new strain.


The HC observed that even though the festive season has come to an end, people have again started hitting the streets to celebrate the New Year.

The State’s Chief Secretary and the home secretary have been directed to ensure that wearing masks and using sanitizers are made mandatory and if necessary, checkpoints may be put up at places where large gatherings take place on New Year’s eve.


Earlier in October this year, the HC had banned the entry of visitors in pandals during the Durga Puja and had put in several restrictions to check the spread of coronavirus during the festive season.


Some major cities in India have already imposed curfews and other guidelines ahead of New Year’s Eve. While Mumbai has imposed a night curfew from 11 pm on December 31, 2020 to 6 am on January 1, 2021; Bengaluru police have prohibited any public gatherings during the New Year’s eve in the city. In Chennai, certain places such as Marina Beach have been made inaccessible to people on New Year’s eve as well as the New Year’s day to avoid crowding.

“Till now, the West Bengal Govt hasn’t imposed any restrictions. Now that the HC has given some directions, the state administration will discuss the issue on Wednesday and may issue some guidelines once the chief minister returns,” said a senior official of the state government.


Covid-19 cases have gone down in West Bengal over the past few weeks from 36,761 active cases on November 1 to 12,788 on December 29. Till date, the state has reported 549,715 Covid-19 cases, out of which, 9,655 have died..


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