Kolkata police said on Thursday that people without masks would not be allowed on Park Street in the central business district and other public places like the Alipore zoo on December 31 and January 1 as a precaution against the spike in the Covid infections.
Joint commissioner of police (headquarters) Subhankar Sinha Sarkar said: “As a part of Covid protocol, no one without a mask will be allowed on Park Street and public places like the zoo on December 31 and January 1. Action will be taken as per law against those who violate the Covid rule.”
Thousands of people crowd on Park Street to see the lights and decorations on December 31 and January 1. Tens of thousands of people visit places like the zoo, Victoria Memorial, Eco Park and Millennium Park over the two days.
The Telegraph had reported how huge crowds, most without masks, were seen at these public places on and after Christmas this year. Many who had come wearing a mask were seen removing it immediately after they entered the place mostly with the excuse of taking selfies.
Sinha Sarkar said police will use loudhailers to make announcements and remind people to maintain distance and use sanitisers.
On and around Park Street, which attracts the maximum footfall on December 31 night, there will be 3,000 cops on December 31 and 3,500 on January 1, the police said.
There will be 20 watch towers and 15 assistance booths on Park Street with men and women officers, specially to address any crime against women, he said.
The city will have mobile patrols and quick response teams across shopping malls, market places, near night clubs and other public places that witness huge footfall.
Several police officers said it was a big challenge for a handful of cops to manage thousands of people and ensure all of them wear masks.
An officer of the rank of assistant commissioner said this was an “impossible task” for the personnel in uniform unless people cooperated.
“If tens of thousands of people decide not to wear masks, can a few cops implement Covid protocol? We genuinely hope that good sense prevails among the revellers,” said the officer.