Updated: March 14, 2021 9:33:48 pm
In a decision that put to rest rumours of Pune going into another lockdown, the district administration on Friday decided against imposing any further restriction on movement. It has instead chosen to enforce further restrictions on timings for restaurants, bars, public gardens, non-essential markets and operations of function halls and clubhouses. The administration has also decided to keep schools and colleges shut till March 31.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar chaired the Covid-19 review meeting attended by public representatives, top bureaucrats and medical experts on Friday amid rising Covid-19 cases in the district.
Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said it has been decided that the night curfew will remain in force between 11 pm and 6 am. However, those who violated curfew timings, did not use masks and violated safety norms at business establishments, would face heavy penalty, Rao added.
At the meeting, representatives relied on findings and recommendations of a report prepared by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Prayas Health Group about sources of infections in the district and ways to slow down the spread of the disease.
New restrictions include closure of dine-in facilities at restaurants and bars at 10 pm instead of 11 pm, and asking restaurants and bars to ensure that they operate at 50 per cent seating capacity. “We will ask them to display the information about total seating capacity, 50 per cent seating capacity and seats occupied at a certain time, at the entrance. They will be allowed to provide food delivery services through their own employees or through mobile apps till 11 pm,” Rao said.
Schools and colleges will remain shut till March 31. An exemption was provided to students and teachers of Classes X and XII. Coaching classes for MPSC and UPSC, and libraries can function at 50 per cent capacity.
Public gardens can open during morning hours, but will remain shut in the evening. More than 50 guests will not be allowed for functions (marriages, religious functions, and other social gatherings) held within closed premises, while 100 will be allowed for open premises such as lawns.
“Local police were asked to ensure that more than the allowed number of guests don’t take part at any event. This includes marriages, funeral marches, funerals or other events,” Rao said.
Malls, cinema halls and markets selling non-essential goods will shut at 10 pm.
The TCS-Prayas report has highly held restaurants and bars responsible for the spread of the infection, in comparison to malls and markets owing to peculiar circumstances under which patrons operate at these two places.
“At restaurants and bars, masks are down and people sit in a closed space for a longer time. At malls and markets, people feel no need to remove their masks and they keep moving, thus reducing chances of contracting the infection,” Rao said.
With these restrictions, it is expected that the current round of infections will peak by the end of the month and the count will start declining. According to projections available with the district administration, if no restrictions are posed, the city will continue to add more cases. This could possibly even cross the September 2020 count (the worst period) in April before peaking by the end of the month and then going down.
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