Vishwajit Rane, minister in charge of health, industry and trade in Goa, has said that mass gatherings in his state should be banned for the next six to seven months and that he expects the state’s tourism sector to remain more or less dormant during this period.
“Mass gatherings, any kind of religious gatherings, prayers and all this should be suspended for the next six months or seven months,” said Rane, who also holds the portfolios of woman and child development and skill development.
Given the high chances of such restrictions being put in place, he said, the state’s tourism sector cannot escape the impact.
“Things are not going to be easy,” he said on TV, when asked about the prospects of tourism in his state post the lock-down.
“I’m looking at nothing happening for next six to seven months, because nobody is going to be traveling, people are scared to travel, people don’t want to travel.”
He also said that he favors the imposition of section 144 of the Indian Penal Code — which bans the assembly of more than four people at a time — in Goa for the next three to four months.
He, however, added that these are his personal recommendations to the chief minister and a final call will be taken after the 13th. He said the center is expected to release its guidelines on lifting the lockdown on April 13.
“We are lucky there has not been any kind of community transmission.. If, by chance, we slip at this stage, Goa will definitely not be in a position to handle any situation. We are in a pretty good situation at present,” he said, participating in a program on the India Today television channel.
Instead of banking on a recovery on the tourism front, Rane suggested that Goa should look at those industries that can be carried on while maintaining social distancing.
“In my honest opinion, and I’ve been analyzing the situation, things are looking very scary. As a state, we need to see how our finances are managed and which are the industries that can be focused on, what activity can be done without creating a problem. Tourism is definitely going to take a beating,” he said.
“I’ve told the Chief Minister, even if there is no lock-down, movement should be restricted, section 144 must be in place, Epidemic Act 1987 should be in place.”
At the same time, he said, it would not be possible for a state like Goa to continue under lock down for the next three to four months, and some way has to be found for generating income without leading to community transmission.
“Slowly, we should concentrate to see how businesses can be put on track. We need to see how to concentrate on those industries and the daily wage workers who today have no income. It is not easy for a state like Goa to sustain this in the long term.
His comments are seen as a warning to people who depend purely on tourism to prepare themselves for pain in the short to medium term and explore.
They come in the wake of the center seeking inputs from states on what to do on April 15, when the present 21-day lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 expires.
Most states that have already given their recommendations have cautioned against an abrupt lifting of the curbs on people movement, warning that any such move could jeopardize the gains made in the past 21 days, and thrust the country towards a catastrophic epidemic.