Updated: April 28, 2021 10:34:24 pm
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant Wednesday announced a four-day lockdown in the state to the chain of Covid-19 infections as active cases in the state surged to 18,829. Goa reported its sharpest single-day rise in active cases with 3,101 new infections Wednesday.
The lockdown will take effect from 7 pm on Thursday and will remain in force till 6 am on May 3. While a night curfew and curbs on large gatherings are already in place until April 30, the lockdown will also mean tourism activities like thronging restaurants and casinos won’t be allowed, Sawant said.
He said that for now a decision had been taken to impose only a four-day lockdown in the state and it is unlikely to be extended. He asked migrant workers not to panic as the lockdown would be imposed only for a short duration.
Hours after the announcement, however, migrant workers in the state made a dash to the Vasco Da Gama railway station to take a train back home in case the government decides to extend the lockdown. On board a packed unreserved compartment of the Vasco-Patna Express, Mohammed Gulzar, a daily wage worker, barely had space to stand straight. He boarded the train with 35 others who hail from his village in Godda district of Jharkhand.
“We have been without work for the last eight to nine days. We would stand near the market in Porvorim (North Goa) and wait for work. It would be either work related to roads, sometimes some work in people’s homes or laying cables. However, the police haven’t been allowing us to assemble near the market (Section 144 has been imposed all over Goa). And since we had a very bitter experience last year, we thought it best to be on our way home while we still can,” said Gulzar, his face covered with a blue mask, as he struggled to hold his phone up.
He said his train compartment was full of men and women who were in Goa to work. There were others from Allahabad and parts of Bihar and everyone rushed to board a train back home after the lockdown was announced Wednesday afternoon.
MD Bablu, another daily-wage worker from Jharkhand, said, “We had no time to pack any food for ourselves. We just grabbed whatever we could and left. There is no place to even stand in the compartment. It’s too crowded. But we remember what happened last year when the lockdown kept getting extended. At least, if we go back to our village, we can be with our families. We have no farms or businesses back home. It will take us three days to reach. We’ll see what to do after that.”
South Goa Collector Ruchika Katyal said that the issue of migrant workers returning to their villages had not been brought to the attention of the district administration but arrangements will be made for them in the state if they seek the government’s help.
During the four-day lockdown, essential services, including grocery shops will remain open throughout the day, restaurant kitchens have been allowed to remain open and food deliveries can also take place. Industries will be allowed to operate within their premises but will have to arrange for transport facilities for their staff. Public transport will remain off roads.
Tourists coming into Goa over the course of the four days will be allowed to stay in their hotels but not venture out. Entry of vehicles from neighbouring states has not been curbed. Weekly markets in parts of Goa will also be disallowed.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.