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Before closure, tide of visitors swamp Kolkata attractions on first Sunday of 2022

On Sunday, 3,194 new Covid infections were reported from Kolkata and 6,153 from the entire state

Debraj Mitra, Monalisa Chaudhuri | Published 03.01.22, 07:55 AM
A crowded Alipore zoo on Sunday afternoon.

A crowded Alipore zoo on Sunday afternoon.

Picture by Gautam Bose

Tens of thousands of people descended on the public attractions in and around Kolkata on the first Sunday of 2022.

Later in the day, a state government order said all “entertainment parks, zoos and tourist attractions” would be closed indefinitely from Monday to check the rapid rise in Covid cases.

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On Sunday, 3,194 new Covid infections were reported from Kolkata and 6,153 from the entire state. On Saturday, 2,398 new cases were reported from the city and 4,512 from across the state. 

When chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi was addressing the media on the fresh curbs, places like Alipore zoo, Victoria Memorial and Eco Park were teeming with visitors who made a mockery of the social distancing norm. 

Alipore zoo saw around 62,000 visitors and Eco Park around 65,000. 

Visitors outside Victoria Memorial on Sunday morning.

Visitors outside Victoria Memorial on Sunday morning.

Picture by Gautam Bose

At both places, many people still had their masks hanging from their chin. Many children were without masks. The crowd seemed oblivious of the surge in Covid cases. 

Around 2pm, the area outside the chimpanzee enclosure at the zoo was so crowded that a guard had to repeatedly tell visitors to keep moving. No one seemed to bother.

Hundreds of people sat on the lawns to eat lunch, one group almost spilling into another.

The police at Alipore zoo tried to manage the crowd by making announcements and intercepting people who were not wearing masks.

An officer said the compliance level had gone up compared with Christmas, but still there were many who were not wearing masks.

“It was indeed a challenge to control such a big crowd in a confined space,” said a senior police officer in the south division.

“We have made sincere efforts to make people aware about the use of masks. We are prosecuting those who are not wearing them. People themselves have to realise the threat, otherwise they will again remove the masks once they are out of sight of the police.”

The police said a total 249 people were arrested on January 1 from across the city for violating the Covid rules.

At the south gate of the Victoria Memorial, a policeman admonished two young women for not covering their faces. “We are just taking a picture and will put the mask on immediately,” said one of them.

“I am fully vaccinated. I will be fine,” said a middle-aged woman who had come with her daughter.

Last updated on 03.01.22, 08:20 AM
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