Amid the fear of spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has appealed to citizens to avoid gatherings and parties during the upcoming Christmas festival and New Year, and warned of stringent action against those who flout rules.
Maharashtra has so far reported 54 cases of the Omicron variant. Out of these, 22 are from Mumbai, including cases found through screening at the international airport here, as per official data.
In a press release issued on Sunday, Chahal said due to the new virus variant Omicron, the situation at many countries in the world has once again gone out of control and has created a lockdown-like situation.
He said despite repeated appeals by the government and administration to prevent a possible third wave of COVID-19, the guidelines are not being followed properly in most places – especially at wedding ceremonies and other functions, and there is a need to curb the growing crowds at such events.
Chahal asked citizens to strictly adhere to rules regarding attendance at weddings and other functions. “Avoid any kind of crowding, wear masks and follow COVID-19 guidelines. All citizens must also get fully vaccinated,” the civic chief said, adding that people should also follow all rules in hotels, restaurants, cinemas, malls and other places.
The BMC body has deployed squads at ward levels to take action against those who violate rules, he said. “Those violating the COVID-19 rules will be dealt with severely by the BMC’s ward level teams as well as the Mumbai Police administration,” he said.
Chahal said in the near future, the risk of COVID-19 spread may increase if programmes and functions are held on Christmas and New Year. There is also a need to curb the growing crowd at weddings and other functions, he said.
“In order to prevent such a situation in India as well as in Maharashtra, the central and state governments are continuously appealing to people and requesting them to take precautions. The BMC administration has also appealed to Mumbaikars to be vigilant,” he said.
According to the BMC, Maharashtra chief secretary issued an order on November 27 and laid down the guidelines to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The Mumbai Police also issued a notification on December 14, stating that action will be taken against violators as per the Indian Penal Code as well as the Epidemic Diseases Act and the National Disaster Management Act.
As per the state government’s guidelines, in close (indoor) halls, only 50 per cent people of the total capacity of those halls must be allowed to attend an event, while in open spaces, only 25 per cent people of the total capacity of the place must be allowed.
If more than 1,000 people are to come together for any event at an open space, it is mandatory to get prior approval from the local disaster management authority, say the guidelines. All hotels, restaurants, cinema halls, malls and other government and private establishments must strictly abide by the rules regarding attendance.
According to the guidelines, all eligible citizens are required to complete their inoculation by taking both doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Only those who are fully vaccinated will be allowed at public places, including public transport. Full vaccination is mandatory for all employees functioning at public places or establishments as well as all attendees at events or functions. Appropriate action will be taken against an establishment if the rule is found to be violated, the guidelines mentioned.