After HC rap, Guj govt bans all gatherings, public festivals

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Ahmedabad, Apr 12 (PTI) As COVID-19 cases continued to spike in Gujarat, the state government on Monday decided to ban all sorts of social, political and religious gatherings, including birthday parties in public places with the immediate effect, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said.

The new directives came hours after the Gujarat High Court pulled up the state government over the COVID-19 situation and problems being faced by citizens. The HC also suggested several measures to control the virus.

Issuing a video message in the evening, the chief minister also announced a ban on the public celebration of all festivals, irrespective of faiths, falling in April and May.

He also appealed to people to celebrate the upcoming festivals at home and avoid gathering in public.

The chief minister asked (managements of) all religious places in the state to ban the entry of visitors and devotees till April 30 and appealed to them to perform daily rituals in the presence of a limited number of people.

He also asked people to avoid visiting the places of their respective faiths till the pandemic situation improves.

Earlier in the day, while hearing a PIL suo motu (on its own) on the situation in the state, a division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav Karia suggested various measures like capping the number of guests at weddings to 50, instead of 100 at present.

The bench also proposed that the number of people who can attend funerals be restricted, gatherings banned, and the number of employees in offices is restricted.

While pulling up the state government, the bench said the reality is contrary to what the government claims and added 'People now think that they are at God's mercy'.

In line with these suggestions, the state government now capped the number of guests at weddings at 50. Similarly, only 50 people can attend funerals now.

To minimise the human-to-human contact, all offices, including private and government, will function with 50 per cent staff, the CM added.

Gujarat reported the highest 6,021 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours and 55 fatalities, also the highest in a day, taking the tally to 3,53,516 and the toll to 4,855, the state health department said on Monday. PTI PJT NSK NSK