Amid rising COVID cases in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday (April 16) declared a fine up to ₹10,000 for not wearing a mask.
The most populous state, with lakhs of devotees and sadhus (seers) having gathered at Prayagraj for the Kumbh Mela, reported 104 deaths and 22,439 fresh cases on Thursday. This is a new record. On Wednesday, 20,510 cases were reported.
The Adityanath administration declared that people caught without a mask for the first time will be fined ₹1,000 and ₹10,000 the next time.
The state has already announced a Sunday lockdown with night curfew (closure from 7pm to 8am) in 10 districts.
A day before, the Uttar Pradesh Education Department declared that all schools will be closed till May 15. Besides, board examinations have been postponed indefinitely.
Yogi Adityanath tweeted on Thursday (April 15): “Corona curfew to be effective from 8pm to 7am in all 10 districts with more than 2,000 active cases including Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Kanpur Nagar, Gautam Budh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Gorakhpur.”
State capital, Varanasi, is among the worst affected cities. The situation is so bad that the city administration has appealed visitors to put off any trip to the city, besides making it compulsory for people visiting prominent temples to produce a negative RT-PCR test report not more than three days old.
India recorded a new high of 2,17,353 new cases in the last 24 hours.
Meanwhile, Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj, has become the hotspot of COVID infection with several seers dying of the disease since the gathering began on April 1. The next royal bath (Shahi Snan) is on April 27. The Kumbh officially gets over on April 30, but several of the 13 Akhadas have withdrawn in view of the deteriorating situation. The UP state administration has said that the Kumbh can be closed earlier if the Akhadas decide.