COVID- 19: Goa shuts down schools, colleges, nightclubs, boat cruises. Board exams as per schedule
The Government of Goa has announced the shuttering of all educational institutions including schools, colleges as well as cinema halls, boat cruises, casinos and nightclubs as measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced on Saturday.
The strictures will come into effect from Sunday midnight and will be in force until March 31, after which they will be reviewed.
Emerging from a high level meeting held with state’s health, tourism as well as administrative officials, the Chief Minister however said that restaurants as well as malls will continue to operate as normal while board exams including for SSC students will go ahead as scheduled.
Gyms, spas and public swimming pools too will be shuttered until March 31.
“We have divided the measures into a compulsory instructions and an advisory. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions right from anganwadi (nurseries) till higher education will be closed,” Sawant announced.
“All gatherings in closed AC spaces like cinema halls, pubs, nightclubs will be compulsorily closed. However restaurants and malls will remain open,” Sawant added.
Goa is yet to report a single confirmed case of the coronavirus, however the fear that tourists from neighbouring Karnataka and Maharashtra may spread the virus in Goa has prompted the measures.
The government has also advised against mass gatherings but has stopped short of cancelling events already scheduled including the Shigmo parades -- a public float parade that is part of a spring festival celebrated in Goa that coincides with Holi.
Besides the measures, the government has also announced a plan to install thermal scanners all all airport, the port as well as railway stations to ensure that every travelling person is scanned for fever and isolated, if necessary.
With regard to religious gatherings, the Chief Minister said that the advisory against mass gatherings was applicable to all religions but that no compulsory measures would be initiated.
“When we issue the advisory, it applies to them. They should take the advice seriously. We are not making it compulsory. It applies to all religions. Both for religious places as well as gatherings for common causes. Everybody needs to do this,” Sawant said.
On Friday, the Goa government invoked provisions of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 and implemented several rules including authorizing health authorities to quarantine persons or geographical areas as well as directing all hospitals including private hospitals to set up ‘flu corners’ and isolation wards in case the need arises.
Tourism in the state, a mainstay of the state industry has been severely affected with foreign tourist arrivals having come to a standstill while the number of tourists from within the country has reduced by over 50%.
Earlier an international music festival -- the Ketevan Sacred Music Festiva, which was to witness several internal artists, musicians and performers was postponed indefinitely owing to the WHO elevating COVID-19 to the status of a global pandemic.