Omicron push: Indian states impose restrictions, curfews to contain spread of infection

Amid the surge in infections of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, several states across the country have imposed more stringent restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.

Wednesday, India the active workload has crossed the 2 lakh mark, with a single-day peak of 58,097 Covid-19 cases. According to the head of the Covid working group of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NTAGI), Dr NK Arora, India is already attending the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The rise in cases has been spurred by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus – of which India currently has 2,135 cases, according to the Union Health Ministry.

Vaccination for children underway at a jumbo center at Somaiya Ground in Sion in Mumbai on Tuesday. (Express photo by Amit Chakravarty)

Here is an overview of the restrictions in India:

Delhi

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority decided on Tuesday to impose a weekend curfew in the nation’s capital. Only essential travel will be permitted during the curfew. He also decided to implement home working in all government offices, while private offices will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. In addition, Delhi Metro and Buses will now allow 100% seat occupancy to avoid congestion at bus stops and stations.

Maharashtra

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has issued amended guidelines for international travelers arriving at Mumbai Airport. Now everything international passengers will have to undergo rapid RT-PCR tests at the airport. The directives came into effect from Monday.

Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar said if the daily number of covid-19 cases crosses the 20,000 mark, a lockdown will be imposed in the city in accordance with Union government rules. Speaking to reporters, Pednekar suggested that citizens wear triple-layered masks when traveling on public buses and local trains. She also called on them to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to follow all standard operating procedures (SOPs) related to Covid-19.

In Pune, schools will remain closed for grades 1 to 8 until January 30, Maharashtra Chief Deputy Minister Ajit Pawar said. He added that the online courses will continue.

A teacher gives online lessons in an empty classroom at Shivashikshan Sanastha in Sion in Mumbai. (Express photo by Amit Chakravarty)

Karnataka

Karnataka will be placed under confinement over the weekend for a period of two weeks, Minister R Ashoka said on Tuesday. According to a statement released by the state government, the weekend curfew will be in effect from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. the following Monday. Revising existing Covid guidelines, the ordinance stipulated that the nighttime curfew in the state would continue from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Pubs, clubs, restaurants, bars, hotels, cinemas, multiplexes, theaters and auditoriums will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.

Punjab

The government of Punjab, meanwhile, has imposed a nighttime curfew as it is from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., excluding essential services. All educational institutions will remain closed, while online courses will continue. In addition, bars, cinemas, shopping malls, restaurants and spas will be allowed to operate at 50% of their capacity, provided that staff are fully vaccinated.

Among other restrictions, the notification urges people to follow the “no mask, no service” principle – no service will be provided in government and private offices to the person not wearing an appropriate mask.

Kerala

Kerala, which has played a major role in contributing to the country’s number of Covid-19 cases, has decided to place restrictions on the number of participants at public events. In the event of events held in closed premises, the number of participants would be limited to 75, while the same would apply for open spaces to 150. The restrictions would apply to all events. The decision was taken during a review meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who observed that 80 percent of the eligible population in Kerala received the second dose of the vaccine. The meeting also decided to strengthen the screening of arriving passengers at all airports.

People are waiting for the Covid vaccination at a center in Ludhiana. (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Chhattisgarh

In the case of Chhattisgarh, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday ordered a ban on rallies, processions and other types of public events across the state, according to an official statement. Baghel also ordered a “nighttime crackdown” from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in districts where the positive case rate is 4 percent and above. The directives to district collectors and police commissioners (SPs) were issued in light of a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases over the past week.

Bihar

Bihar on Tuesday imposed new restrictions as active Covid cases in the state reached 2,222 with more than 800 cases reported in the past 24 hours. Patna and Gaya are the most affected. A government statement said a nighttime curfew will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Kindergartens and grades 1 to 8 will remain closed. However, the online courses will continue. Educational institutions in grades 9 to 12 will operate at 50 percent of their capacity. Religious places, shopping centers, cinemas, clubs, swimming pools, stadiums, gymnasiums, parks will also remain closed. These latter restrictions will remain in effect from January 6 to 21.

Haryana

The Haryana government on Tuesday limited attendance at government offices, boards and businesses to 50 percent of the total workforce. The rest of the employees will work from home, according to a government notification. The new set of instructions was issued by the office of Chief Secretary Sanjeev Kaushal.

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