West Bengal announces fresh curbs, restricts flights from Mumbai, Delhi

The West Bengal government on Sunday said flights from Mumbai and Delhi were being restricted to twice a week from January 5 as new Covid cases in the state mounted to 6,153 from 1,089 on December 29.

In a letter to the civil aviation ministry, the state government said that in view of the rising Covid cases it had decided that with effect from January 5, all incoming domestic flights from Mumbai and Delhi to West Bengal will be temporarily allowed only twice a week on Monday and Friday till further orders.

This is among a set of fresh curbs announced by Chief Secretary H K Dwivedi after a panel of the state disaster management authority recommended review of the current restrictions and relaxations amid concerns of “high rate of infectivity” and multiple cases of the Omicron variant.

The restrictions are effective Monday and will be in force till January 15.

Dwivedi said direct flights from the UK were being temporarily suspended from tomorrow. The Civil Aviation Ministry had already been informed, the chief secretary said.

Till January 1, 19 had tested positive for Omicron, and 15 were active. Dwivedi, however, reassured on hospital bed availability and said the total bed occupancy was around 1.5 per cent. Those who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms can isolate at home, he said.

The order includes an advisory to the management of industries, factories, mills, tea gardens, and other establishments to ensure strict compliance of Covid-appropriate norms and “only double vaccinated workers” to be allowed to enter the work sites.

All academic activities in schools, colleges, and universities are to remain closed and only administrative activities will be permitted with 50 per cent employees at a time.

Government offices, including public undertakings, will function with 50 per cent of employees at a time, and work from home is encouraged. The same holds for private offices and establishments.

Swimming pools, spas, gyms, beauty parlors, saloons, wellness centres, entertainment parks, zoos, and tourist places will be closed.

Shopping malls and market complexes will, however, function with capacity not exceeding 50 per cent and till 10 pm. Similarly, restaurants and bars have been allowed to operate with 50 per cent capacity and till 10 pm.

Cinema halls and theatre halls, too, will operate with 50 per cent seating capacity and up to 10 pm.

The maximum number of people at meetings and conferences has been limited to 200 people at a time or 50 per cent seating capacity of the hall. The number of people at social, religious and cultural gatherings has been capped at 50.

As far as public transport is concerned, local trains will operate with 50 per cent seating capacity and up to 7 pm; metro services will operate with 50 per cent seating capacity and as per usual operational time.

Further, the movement of people and vehicles and public gatherings is prohibited between 10 pm to 5 am and only essential and emergency services are permitted.

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