Mumbai: For the second year straight, the Maharashtra government will not permit parties or big gatherings during the Christmas-New Year Eve week in the country’s commercial capital owing to the spread of Omicron variant of coronavirus, Mumbai Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh said Wednesday.
However, all religious activities pertaining to festival shall be allowed in Churches as usual, and detailed guidelines in the matter shall follow shortly, he said.
Hours after the Minister’s statement, Mumbai Police’s Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations) S. Chaitanya issued wide-ranging prohibitory orders starting midnight on Wednesday (December 15-16) till December 31.
Under this, all activities-events in open or closed spaces shall be permitted at 50 per cent capacity and the disaster management authority must have intimated of any gathering attracting over 1,000 people.
Justifying the proposed move, the minister added that it is being done to avoid overcrowding during the festival and prevent any further spread of the Covid-19 variant Omicron in the city, now – along with Pune – having the highest number of 12 cases, of the state’s 28.
Moreover, many international flight passengers land here daily from international flights increasing the risks of the spread of the disease, he averred.
Last year, for Christmas (2020) and New Year Eve (2021), there were strict restrictions imposed as a precaution though the first Covid wave was on the wane.
The second and more severe Covid-19 wave started around February this year and the situation has now become complex with the emergence of the Omicron variant since December 4 in the state in Thane.
Shaikh’s latest diktat, followed by the Mumbai Police’s restrictions, will dampen the New Year Eve spirit especially in posh restaurants and luxury hotels which usually host big-ticket mega-parties with Indian and foreign celebs.
Besides, it could hit the exclusive private bashes organised at homes or farmhouses and other select venues by Bollywood or business bigwigs in and around Mumbai, and most may be compelled to ring in 2022 on a subdued note.