Chennai will see muted New Year celebrations tonight as efforts are heightened to check the spread of a new mutant coronavirus strain, which has led to a new wave of restrictions worldwide.
More than 10,000 policemen will be on duty across the city to ensure government-mandated Covid guidelines are being followed on New Year's eve. While 20 cases of mutant strain, first reported by the United Kingdom, have been reported across India, one case is in Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu has 8,615 active cases of coronavirus; 945 patients tested positive on Wednesday. The state has so far logged over 8.17 lakh cases.
Chennai's iconic Marina Beach, which reopened on December 14 after it remained shut for nearly eight months due to the pandemic, will be again out of bounds today for the New Year revellers. Two hundred policemen are deployed at the Marina Beach, and Elliots Beach to restrict public entry. An officer said, "These steps have been taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus." Chennai Police have asked all the hotels, clubs and resorts to close by 10 pm tonight. Sale of alcohol will also be restricted as per the police guidelines.
All those visiting hotels or resorts will have to provide proper identification documents, and their credentials will have to be verified by the hotel authorities before letting them in. This should be accompanied by a thorough security check, and hotels can seek women police personnel assistance.
Police also laid down rules regarding fire safety and asked hoteliers to explain to all visitors about using emergency exits in case of an emergency. The facilities should also have clear signs directing people to emergency exits.
Apart from this, hotels have been asked to set up CCTV cameras to monitor parties and other events. They've also been asked to shut their swimming pools.
In neighbouring Puducherry, New Year celebrations are allowed on the beach. However, LG Kiran Bedi has appealed to people in Tamil Nadu to not flock to the union territory.