The Covid numbers are minuscule. But the rising Celsius is the new deterrent for outdoor activities.
On Sunday, parks and museums in and around the city were not half as crowded as they were even a fortnight ago.
The Celsius was stuck below normal for much of last month, thanks to a steady flow of northwesterly winds. But for the past couple of days, the Celsius has been more than what is usual for early March.
On Sunday, the maximum and minimum temperatures were around 33 and 22 degrees.
Just around 1.30pm, when the Celsius is supposed to be at its peak, the Maidan greens were not deserted but unlike the weekends in February, there were plenty of open spaces. Missing were the many cricket matches that used to go on simultaneously on different slices of the greens.
A large and young group sat under the shadow of a banyan tree towards the Fort William side of the Maidan.
“The crowd started thinning from the previous weekend. There are hardly any customers,” said Rafiq Alam, who sells peanuts on the Maidan.
The buzz was missing at the north gates of the Victoria Memorial as well. Only a handful of people were waiting to enter the museum and some were taking pictures on their phones.
An hour ago, the Alipore zoo was also much emptier by its own standards. There was no queue at any of the ticket counters.
“The peak season is over. The crowd will only go down now,” said a zoo official.
“The children have exams. Their mothers are also busy with that,” said Montu Pal, a hawker selling handbags in Gariahat in south Kolkata, pointing towards the deserted pavements.
The temperature will only go up in the coming days, the Met office has said.
On Sunday, malls and restaurants were busy. Restaurants on Park Street were crowded.
Around 4pm, the atrium of South City Mall was buzzing with people.
Quest Mall and Acropolis also had visitors throughout the day.
“The northwesterly winds had been active till late February, keeping the day temperature under control and making the nights pleasant. But not any more. The absence of the winds will lead to a gradual rise in the day temperature,” said G.K. Das, director, India Meteorological Department, Kolkata.
The next few days are likely to be dry and the Celsius is tipped to move towards 35 degrees by the next weekend, according to the Met forecast.