Mumbai Police step up vigil as night curfew comes into force

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(Eds: Adds quotes, details) Mumbai, Dec 23 (PTI) Increased patrolling by police, heightened vigilance and curbs on timings of bars and pubs are back in Mumbai as it came under a night curfew to check the spread of COVID-19, but essential travel and services will remain unaffected, officials said on Wednesday.

The Maharashtra government has imposed the night curfew in municipal corporation areas (cities) from December 22 to January 5 as a precautionary step amid concerns over detection of a new variant of the coronavirus in Britain.

Mumbaikars can go out during the curfew, in force from 11 pm to 6 am, for valid reasons, butnot in a group of more than five persons, a top police official said.

The curfew is for the safety and health of Mumbaikars and restrictions are only on gathering of five or more persons during the seven-hour-period, said Vishwas Nangre Patil, Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order).

All permitted business activities in night will be allowed except in establishments used for entertainment and recreational purposes, he said.

Establishments like hotels, pubs, restaurants, bars and theatres will have to down shutters at 11 pm, the IPS officer said.

'All essential services are allowed and people also can travel on two and four wheelers for essential work,' Nangre Patil said.

He appealed to Mumbaikars to adhere to COVID-19- related protocols which are already in place.

Remember to wear face masks. Remember to keep distance. Remember, you owe yourself another good year, and a great life, Nangre Patil said.

Police have been conducting marches and are going around streets requesting people to stay indoors during the curfew hours, another police official said.

Vehicles used for non-essential purposes during the night curfew will be seized, a city police spokesperson said.

Increased police patrolling was seen near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Haji Ali areas of south Mumbai in the wee hours of Wednesday.

Police personnel were seen conducting a march in suburban Dindoshi.

They were seen also conducting checks in suburban Goregaon and Malad and asking people, who were out on streets, to go to their homes and adhere to the government's order.

In suburban Kandivali, police personnel patrolled streets and informed citizens about the night curfew. They also warned of action under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code on assembly of five or more persons at one place.

The police have increased checking of vehicles by conducting 'nakabandi' (road blockades) at various places in the city at night.

'Vehicles used during the night curfew for non- essential and non-exempted purposes will be seized,' said Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) S Chaitanya, who is spokesperson of the Mumbai Police.

All local police officers, including zonal DCPs, have been out on streets during the night curfew to strictly implement the curbs, he said.

'Action is being taken against those violating the prohibitory orders. The police were ensuring no shops or establishments are open beyond the given time limit,' he said.

In neighbouring Thane and Navi Mumbai also, the police are ensuring strict implementation of the night curfew order to check the spread of the COVID-19, a third official said.

The police on Tuesday raided a posh club near the Mumbai airport, where 34 people, including some celebrities, were caught for allegedly violating COVID-19 prevention norms.

After the raid, the city police had tweeted: 'Party (Nahin) Chalegi Till Six In The Morning! A raid was conducted at a nightclub in Andheri at around 3 am, for flouting COVID prevention norms. Action has been initiated against 34 people, out of which 19 were from Delhi & Punjab, including some celebrities #NewNormal.' PTI DC GK RSY RSY