States Impose Night Curfews With More Covid-19 Cases. What Does It Mean?

Delhi and Mumbai on Monday recorded highest single-day spike in fresh Covid-19 cases amid rising cases of Omicron variant.

To avert another disastrous wave of coronavirus pandemic, the Centre and the state governments have issued list of guidelines and fresh restrictions. Among them is the imposition of night curfew and Section 144 in few states and union territories. The fresh curbs have come into place after the spread of Omicron variant of coronavirus in India. As on Monday, India had 578 Omicron cases, with Delhi and Mumbai logging their highest single-day hikes in months.

National capital Delhi on Monday recorded 290 fresh Covid-19 cases, highest in six months. The positivity rate also zoomed to 0.55%.

To control the situation, Maharashtra, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana have issued night curfews. A ban on New Year celebrations has also been ordered.

What is a night curfew?

In essence, night curfew means ban on movement of people during the night hours. In Delhi, night curfew comes into effect from 11pm to 5am from December 27. Similarly, in Karnataka, night curfew will come into place from 10pm to 5am for 10 days, starting December 28. While similar restrictions were imposed earlier too to control the spread of Covid-19, the effectiveness of night curfews is being debated.

How effective are night curfews?

Restriction on movement of people during night hours may not be a fool proof method to keep the spread of virus in check. However, it can keep in check the gathering since most public places like restaurants, pubs and bars will be closed. This becomes effective particularly owing to the New Year celebrations and huge gatherings in metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai.

How strict are night curfews?

Night curfews do not mean a blanket ban on movement of people. There are certain exemptions meant for emergencies. In Delhi, for example, people who are going to or returning from railway stations, airports and bus stops will be allowed to travel after they show their tickets. People on foot to buy essentials, vegetables and milk from neighbourhood shops are also exempted from the restrictions. Journalists and delivery persons carrying food and medicines will also be allowed to travel during night curfew in Delhi. Medical shops, shops selling vegetables, dairy, etc will also be allowed to operate during curfew hours.

In Maharashtra, with night curfew, the admin has banned assembly of five or more persons from 9pm to 6am. Gyms, spas, hotels, theatres and cinema halls have been allowed to operate for now, but with 50% capacity. For wedding functions, the total number of guests in closed spaces should be 100 and for open spaces, the number of attendees should not be more than 250 or 25 per cent of the capacity of this space whichever is less. Similar rules apply to other social, religious or political gatherings.

In Uttar Pradesh, while chief minister Yogi Adityanath called for a "no mask, no goods" policy, night curfew has also been imposed. The number of attendees for events like marriages should not exceed 200, while the organisers will have to inform the inform the local authorities about the gatherings.

From December 28, Karnataka will have a night curfew for 10 days with ban on gathering of five or more people from 10pm to 5am. The state has also banned parties and celebrations for New Year.

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