‘Will act against hotels, clubs not following Covid-19 norms’: Goa health minister

The Goa government will recommend action against hotels and other tourist establishments that are not following Covid-19 protocol, Goa health minister Vishwajit Rane said.

Lamenting that social distancing norms were thrown to the winds as the state hosted crowded parties on the New Year’s eve, Rane said that there was only so much the state administration could do to enforce the norms if individuals didn’t respect them.

“I feel that we need to be cautious as a state. We want people of Goa to be safe. We want business activity to continue and sustain. They (tourists) have to ensure that they wear a mask and maintain social distancing. We will recommend strict action against hotels and clubs that do not maintain the SOPs,” Rane told a press conference on Saturday.

Rane, at the last minute on the New Year’s eve, pitched for a night curfew in Goa, a move that could have potentially derailed the state’s New Year’s eve celebrations that were planned by various hotels and nightclubs. However, he was overruled by chief minister Pramod Sawant who said that there would be no night curfew in the state but that norms would have to be followed.

Visuals emerging from across the state, however, revealed that revellers were seen thronging the popular hotspots, often gathering in groups, without masks.

Also read: Free Covid-19 vaccine for all frontline workers in 1st phase – Harsh Vardhan

“Tourists should realise they are coming here to enjoy. But they should have responsibility. 60 per cent of people wear masks only at the airports. Goa is not a banana republic,” Rane said.

“With folded hands, I appeal to the people of Goa and tourists to wear your masks. We want you to enjoy in Goa, maintain social distancing. The government should increase the fine to Rs 500 on beaches. These people will not understand. We want Goa to be looked up as a topmost tourist destination. I am not saying do not go to the beach, go to the beach but maintain social distancing,” Rane said.

“I am sorry there will be a spike and the spike will be uncontrollable. Reporting cases in time will help us keep the count down,” Rane also said.

Goa is seeing around 100 fresh cases of Covid-19 each day which is lower than the 500-odd daily cases that were being recorded at the peak of the infection in September last year. However, the state has the highest number of Covid-19 deaths per million having registered more than 700 deaths till date and more than 50,000 registered cases cumulatively so far which is more than 3 per cent of the state’s population.

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