Apprehensive about a possible surge in coronavirus infections due to the opening of dine-in facilities at restaurants and pubs here, the Pune district administration on Tuesday warned that establishments which do not follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) will face hefty cash fines, up to Rs 50,000, and legal action. Repeat offenders may face suspension or cancellation of their licence.
District health officials are worried that patrons visiting Pune restaurants for dining and socialising may lead to another surge in cases, similar to the one seen in the days following the Ganesh festival this year.
The case positivity rate has finally stabilised in the last few weeks, said Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao, adding that the administration was serious about keeping the rate down and improving the situation further.
On Tuesday evening, officials of the Revenue department, police, Excise department and municipal bodies held a virtual conference with representatives of restaurant and bar associations.
This is the latest in a series of meetings senior administration officials have already held with representatives of such associations in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, to discuss measures that they need to take to ensure that restaurants and bars don’t end up becoming places that spread the virus.
“We are now seeing the kind of plateau in fresh cases and positivity rate that was seen just before Ganesh festival in August. At that time, during the festival, there were a large number of violations which resulted in a surge in cases, which caused a lot of problems for local residents as well as health authorities. We are determined to avoid a repeat of the situation…,” said Rao.
He said the ‘core committee’ to tackle Covid-19 in Pune has decided to take strong measures to prevent violation of social distancing and sanitation norms at restaurants and bars. The administration will form two surveillance squads each for rural and urban areas of the district. The squads will have officials from the Excise department, local police, Revenue department and municipal bodies, as well as representatives of local restaurant and bar associations.
“If a restaurant or bar is found not following the SOP issued by the municipal corporation and the state government, they will face financial penalties which could go up to Rs 50,000, as well as punitive action from the Excise department or municipal corporation. The action will be taken under the State Excise Act and Disaster Management Act,” said Rao.
He said repeat violators may even see suspension or outright cancellation of their licence. “Although the decision to open restaurants and bars has been taken to revive economic activity, we can’t allow local residents’ health to be compromised for the sake of business. If the restaurants do not comply with the SOP, it will cost us dearly… it will cost not only the residents of Pune but also health authorities fighting the pandemic,” said Rao.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines