Goa’s popular beach villages to go in for partial lockdown?

Goa’s most popular coastal strip, the Calangute-Candolim beach stretch — extremely popular with beachgoers and tourists — may go for a partial lockdown, in the wake of increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the area.

According to Ports Minister and local MLA Michael Lobo, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant late on Tuesday, gave the go-ahead for the district administration, local elected representatives, health and police officials to meet on Wednesday afternoon to finalise the plan for a partial lockdown of the beach villages of Candolim, Calangute and parts of Arpora, in a bid to stem the Covid tide.

“We have informed the CM that the situation is going out of hand. Calangute, Candolim and some parts of Arpora-Nagoa are witnessing a steep increase in cases. Precious lives are being lost,” Lobo said on Wednesday.

The partial lockdown, which will be discussed at a meeting with the local Deputy Collector, would involve closure of all non-essential businesses and services from 1 p.m. to 6 a.m., during which no one would be allowed to leave or enter the three villages, unless for medical reasons.

“Tourists should stay in the hotels. Things are going out of hand. We should try it for eight to ten days to see if we can bring down the number of cases,” Lobo said, adding the Chief Minister had directed the district administration to work out the modalities of the partial lockdown.

If it comes into force, it will be the first such lockdown during the second wave in the state, where Covid-19 cases have spiralled.

The beach villages are frequented by thousands of tourists everyday, but the Candolim public health centre, which caters to the residents of the area ranks the second highest in terms of active Covid-19 cases in the state, with 1,392 persons currently reported as positive.

The beach villages also have the highest concentration of hotels and resorts in the coastal state.

“We don’t want outside people to come to these areas (during partial lockdown) or people from these areas to go outside. People should not move around in other houses for functions for a few days. Let us break that chain of the virus spread,” Lobo said.

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane are currently at loggerheads over the issue of imposing a lockdown. While Rane has insisted on several occasions that the state should go in for a lockdown to arrest the spread of the Covid-19 footprint, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said that a lockdown is not feasible and would impact the state’s already dwindling economy.

Goa currently has 16,591 active Covid-19 patients. The state over the last few days has crossed the count of 2,000 new infections every day, while more than 30 persons on an average have died after being infected, in the country’s smallest state.