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Regulate crowds in markets, hold officials liable, Centre tells states

New Delhi: Citing a rise in Covid-related R-factor (reproduction rate) in various parts of the country amid overcrowding, the Centre on Wednesday advised states and UTs to reimpose curbs on people’s movement and make individual officials at the district level “personally” responsible for enforcement.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, in a letter to state chief secretaries and UT administrators, cautioned against lax public behaviour amid fears of a third wave. The warning came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern over overcrowding in hill stations and markets.

 

“Massive crowds are thronging market places, violating social distancing norm. Consequently, increase in R-factor (reproduction number) in some of the states is a matter of concern…. Therefore, it is important that the authorities concerned shall be made personally responsible for ensuring Covid-appropriate behaviour in all crowded places as well as areas identified as hotspots,” said Bhalla.

The Home Secretary insisted that the states and UTs consider reimposing restrictions in places and establishments where Covid norms were flouted.

“If Covid norms are not maintained at any establishment, such places should be liable for reimposition of restrictions… and the defaulters shall also be liable for action under relevant law,” he said.

The Home Ministry’s standing advisory to states is strict containment in districts with over 10 per cent positivity and over 60 per cent occupancy of oxygen and ICU beds. As of today, 55 districts of the total 736 have more than 10 per cent positivity rate.

Of these, 35 are in the northeast and the rest in Rajasthan (9), Kerala (8), Maharashtra, Odisha and Puducherry (one each).

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