Blatant violations of COVID norms have been observed in several parts of the country, especially in public transport and at hill stations, the Union Home Ministry said on Wednesday, while urging the states to take strong actions against such violations.
In a letter to the chief secretaries of all states, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla pointed out that massive crowds are thronging the market places, violating norms of social distancing. “Consequently, increase in 'R' factor (Reproduction number) in some of the states is a matter of concern,” he said. Any increase in 'R' factor above 1.0 is an indicator of the spread of COVID-19.
“Therefore, it is important that the authorities concerned shall be made responsible for ensuring COVID Appropriate Behaviour in all crowded places such as shops, malls, markets, market complexes, weekly markets, restaurants and bars, mandis, bus stations, railway platforms/stations, public parks and gardens, gymnasiums, banquet halls and marriage halls, stadia and sports complexes as well as at all areas identified as hotspots for transmission of COVID-19 virus,” the letter said.
Bhalla said if the COVID norms are not maintained in any of these places, restrictions should be re-imposed and actions should be taken against the defaulters under relevant laws.
Emphasising that the second wave of the pandemic is not yet over, Bhalla said: “We ought to remember that while the reach of vaccination is increasing considerably, there is no room for complacency and hence COVID appropriate behaviour must continue in line with our philosophy of 'dawai bhi, kadai bhi'.
He said testing needs to be continued with the same vigour, as adequate testing is extremely essential in terms of checking the virus and early identification of cases.
“You would appreciate that we must guard ourselves against complacency and laxity, which creep in as positivity rate declines. Instead, during the period of low positivity, efforts must be stepped up to prevent any probable future surge,” the home secretary said.
Bhalla urged the chief secretaries to issue strict directions to the district and all other local authorities concerned, to regulate the crowded places and take necessary measures for COVID-19 management. He also said the officers concerned should be made personally responsible for any laxity in strict enforcement COVID norms.