The usual crowd of revellers was missing from the iconic Park Street on New Year's Eve as people of Kolkata chose mostly to stay indoors after the city reported a massive jump in COVID-19 cases over the last three days.
Lesser than usual gatherings were seen at Alipore Zoo, Eco Park, Victoria Memorial and Millennium Park during the day, while Park Street and its adjoining areas were kept open for traffic unlike the evening of Christmas. "It is a different New Year's Eve at Park Street," said Ritesh Agarwal who was accompanied by his girlfriend.
Kolkata on Friday reported 1,954 new COVID-19 cases, up from 1,090 on Thursday and 540 on Wednesday, as per the Health Department. Vineet Goyal, the new Commissioner of Kolkata Police, visited Park Street and supervised the arrangements.
Strict action will be taken against those not wearing masks, he said. The eateries along the thoroughfare -- Peter Cat, Mocambo, Flury's and Marco Polo -- witnessed the buzz as that of any weekend but not as on Christmas or a New Year's Eve, an official of the Hotels and Restaurants Association of Eastern India said.
The crowd waiting for tables outside these restaurants was nowhere as compared to the gatherings witnessed in the last few years, he said. The nearby St Paul's Cathedral was out of bounds for the people as churches in the city chose to close doors due the surge in cases.
Forest Minister Jyotipriyo Mallick said the government was mulling to shut the Alipore Zoo for visitors from January 1. Among the prominent places that cancelled New Year's Eve programmes were Tolly Club, Bengal Club, Saturday Club and Calcutta Rowing Club. Public health expert Dr Arindam Biswas said it seemed that people of the city realised the threat of the omicron variant. "This realisation should have happened earlier," he added.
With inputs from PTI.