Thiruvananthapuram: With a spike in Omicron cases on Friday and tight curbs across Kerala, the state is set to start the New Year on a gloomy note.
Though daily Covid cases in the state have subsided after staying the highest in the country for close to two months, the arrival of Omicron has once again changed the situation. Kerala on Friday reported 44 more cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19, taking the total number of infections in the state to 107.
With night curfew in place from Thursday night, Kerala residents who had planned a New Year's Eve bash have to get indoors latest by 10 pm, if they don't want to face police action.
A special meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan decided to impose night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am from December 30 to January 2, and also clamped curfew in beaches across the state, where the maximum crowds gather to usher in the New Year.
As a result, the Kerala Police announced that all people should clear out of the Kovalam beach latest by 8.30 pm on Friday, while at the Kozhikode beach, the police started to turn away people from 5.30 pm onwards.
At Kovalam beach, the police stopped and checked a Swedish tourist Steve's bag for liquor. When he complied and showed the liquor bottle, the police asked for the bill. As he had no bill in his possession, he was stopped. The angry tourist opened the bottle and poured out its contents. He also showed his concern for the environment, putting the now empty plastic liquor bottle back in his bag, instead of throwing it on the ground.
This entire scene which was shot on a camera has now gone viral.
The police has also made elaborate arrangements to take action against those who drink in public and those caught driving under the influence of alcohol will face fines.
Meanwhile, State Health Minister Veena George has asked all the people to ensure that there should be no violation of Covid protocols and that wearing of N-95 masks is the best option besides maintaining social distancing at all places once out in the streets.
The minister advised the public to exercise extreme caution on New Year's eve and the upcoming days to prevent community spread of the variant. "The variant has a high a rate of transmission. We need to prevent its community spread at all costs. Kindly excercise caution and follow all Covid protocols in the upcoming days," she said.
(With IANS inputs.)