New Delhi: Close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern over large crowds visiting hill stations and other public places, Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla on Wednesday wrote to all states and Union territories asking them to take steps to control crowding and shed their complacency as the R-rate of Covid infections is rising in many states. It also asked them to make officers personally responsible for any laxity. An increase in the R-factor above 1.0 is an indicator of the rapid spread of the coronavirus. At present the R-factor in India is just 0.88, but it is showing indications of rising fast.
“With the decline in the number of active cases, states and UTs have started reopening activities in a gradual manner… However, blatant violations of Covid-19 norms have been observed in several parts of the country, especially in public transport and at hill stations. Massive crowds are also thronging marketplaces, violating all the norms of social distancing. Consequently, an increase in the “R” factor (reproduction number) in some states, is a matter of concern,” the home secretary said in his letter.
The home secretary also cautioned the states any increase in the R-factor above 1.0 is an indicator of the rapid spread of Covid-19. The authorities concerned should be made responsible for ensuring “Covid Appropriate Behaviour” (CAB) in all crowded places.
The Union home ministry directed all states to ensure strict compliance of CAB in all crowded areas like “shopping malls, market complexes, weekly markets, restaurants and bars, mandis, bus stations, railway platforms and stations, public parks and gardens, gymnasiums, banquet/marriage halls, stadia/sports complexes as well as at all areas identified as hotspots for transmission of the Covid virus”.
“It needs to be ensured that if the norms of Covid Appropriate Behaviour are not maintained at any establishment/premises/markets etc, such places shall be liable for the reimposition of restrictions, for containing the spread of Covid-19 and the defaulter(s) shall also be liable for action under the relevant laws,” the home secretary further stated in his letter.
The states have been asked to issue the appropriate orders to district and local authorities for regulation of crowds and make officers personally responsible for any laxity in the strict enforcement of Covid appropriate behaviour.
“It is emphasised that the second wave of Covid is not over yet… we must guard against any complacency and laxity which creeps in as positivity declines. Though the reach of vaccination is increasing, the states must continue to act on the principle of ‘Dawai Bhi, Kadai Bhi’.”
The home ministry letter added: “Testing needs to be continued with the same vigour, as adequate testing is extremely essential in terms of checking the virus and the early identification of cases.”...