Rising number of social gatherings worries officials

Strict levy of fines has not been a deterrent in city

With the threat of a third wave of COVID-19 looming large, the civic authorities are concerned that the city is witnessing a large number of socio-cultural events and religious and marriage functions, in violation of the norms stipulated by the State government.

A senior official of the Greater Chennai Corporation said that while a team of civic officials has been conducting surprise inspections and levying fines, this has failed to deter large gatherings at marriages and religious and socio-cultural events. People seem to ignore the threat of these events turning into super spreaders, leading to COVID-19 clusters and eventually a possible third wave of the pandemic.

The senior civic official reiterated that the State government had made some relaxations, mainly allowing cinemas to function with 50% capacity. No entertainment and cultural events were permitted in any community halls. However, beaches (except Sundays), religious places (to remain closed from Fridays to Sundays), hostels, swimming pools that too only for sports competitions, creche, zoos, and lodges, are allowed to function.

The Government Order of September 11 clearly states that “public gatherings in religious festivals/consecrations, political, socio-cultural and religion related congregation, which were already prohibited, will continue to be prohibited up to October 31, in order to avoid super spreader events.”

The civic body is concerned about several marriage organisers and other individual functions violating the norms of allowing more than 50 guests. The civic body advises organisers of events give takeaway rather than serving food in halls. The civic official said dining together could cause COVID-19 infection as the guests would not be wearing masks.

The civic body has created a separate portal for marriage halls, hotels and community halls, to register all the functions, and it deputes civic officials to conduct surprise checks.

The Corporation wants the residents to adhere to the State government norms to minimise the impact of another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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