The Chennai police put in place a slew of restrictions for New Year’s Eve in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, particularly of the Omicron variant. It asked the public to avoid gatherings and ask people to observe COVID appropriate behaviour.
Beaches will be out of bounds on New Year’s Eve. The police said that people will not be allowed to gather in Marina Beach, Elliots Beach, Neelankarai, and East Coast Road. Vehicles will not be allowed on Marina Beach, from War Memorial to Gandhi Statue, Kamaraj Road and Besant Nagar Elliots Beach Road from 9 pm onwards. It added that New Year celebrations will not be allowed on RK Salai , Rajaji Salai, Kamarajar Salai, Anna Salai, GST Road and other arterial roads.
It also prohibited resorts, farmhouses, clubs and convention centres from holding commercialised New Year celebrations, and banned DJ programmes and dance parties. The statement by the police added that residents of apartments and villas should not gather and hold New Year celebrations. Shows, dance performances, DJs and concerts are not allowed in hotels, entertainment venues, farm houses and public places.
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In all places of worship, standard operating procedures must be followed, and people must be wearing face masks and only be allowed after they are screened with thermal scanners and infrared gadgets.
The police said that there will be checkpoints at several locations as well as patrolling. The Tamil Nadu government also said that movement of vehicles except for emergencies will be prohibited between midnight on December 31 and 5 am on January 1.
Tamil Nadu reported a marginal rise in new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, December 28, adding 619 cases, including seven returnees from domestic and overseas locations, pushing the caseload to 27,45,261, while the toll rose to 36,750 with six more deaths. The state had logged 605 cases on Monday. Recoveries eclipsed new infections with 638 people getting discharged in the last 24 hours, aggregating to 27,01,974, leaving 6,537 active cases, a health department bulletin said.
The state capital headed the list of new infections (194), followed by Coimbatore 84 and Chengalpet 59, while the remaining were scattered across other districts. Among those who tested positive were two returnees each from Qatar and West Bengal and one each from the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine and New Delhi.
Meanwhile, Minister for Medical and Family Welfare Ma Subramanian appealed to members of the public to avoid taking part in new year celebrations as there was a risk of spread of the virus. He said union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan too had written to state governments on this subject on Tuesday. "Since there is a possibility of the spread of virus, we urge members of the public to avoid such gatherings", he said.
Voicing concern over the increase in covid cases in Chennai, Subramanian said wearing of masks in the metro was low, while 56-58% of people do so in a commercial complex. In places like slum areas, it was 32%, posing a risk of spread of the virus in the locality. "While going out, one should wear a facial mask, maintain social distancing and follow all the COVID-19 protocols", he told reporters.
On the Omicron variant of COVID-19, he said 34 people were affected by the new strain in the state till date, of whom 22 were discharged after successful recovery. "There were 12 people under treatment as of yesterday and seven were discharged last night. The current active Omicron cases in Tamil Nadu is five," he said.
With PTI inputs
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