Panaji, March 14: The Goa government has directed the closure of schools, colleges pubs, movie halls, public swimming pools, spas, boat-cruises, and casinos till March 31, in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Saturday. The closure will come into effect from midnight on Sunday.
Malls, restaurants, and hotels will, however, remain open, Sawant said, adding that the directions for closure were only meant for places where people gather in closed premises. The Chief Minister also urged tourists to not visit Goa as a precautionary measure.
The Opposition has however said that the government was “completely confused” over the coronavirus issue and there was no scientific action plan in the precautionary measures.
After a meeting of the government’s high-powered committee, headed by the Chief Minister and attended by Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, Chief Secretary Parimal Rai and other top officials, Sawant said the state government was also in the process of purchasing more thermal scanners, which will be installed at the Dabolim International Airport, local ports, and railway stations.
The Chief Minister also said that an advisory to the effect will be issued later on Saturday.
“We are also advising people not to travel unnecessarily and not conduct meetings with large gatherings. Hotels with wedding venues have also been urged to make sure that mass gatherings are avoided,” Sawant said, adding a review of the situation would be taken March 31.
Sawant, however, overruled his Health Minister Vishwajit Rane and allowed organizers of the ongoing Shigmo religious festival to take a decision on whether to conduct public events related to the celebrations or not.
“Local organizing committees can take their own decisions. Many committees have said that only locals visit the festival (therefore it should be allowed). It is up to them,” Sawant said.
Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat has however slammed Sawant for not handling the issue scientifically and continuing to allow gatherings in public spaces with an eye on the upcoming Zilla Panchayat polls.
“The government is completely confused with no scientific action plan put in place to handle the coronavirus cases. On one hand government announces closure of Schools and on the other hand allows exams to continue. They decide to stop close door meetings, events, pubs & clubs, but allow malls to remain open,” Kamat said, also criticising Sawant for banning ZP campaign meetings at the same time providing leeway for Shigmo parades.
“This is a clear indication of governments fear of growing support to the opposition candidates all across the state. The government is trying to create fear in the minds of public to restrict large voter turnout for ZP elections,” Kamat also said.