Covid: State govt opens parks for vaccinated morning walkers

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation manages about 700 small and large parks in the city.

The state government has allowed people who have received both doses of a Covid vaccine to visit parks from 6am to 9am, but civic officials who manage these places wonder how such a norm will be implemented.

A notification issued by the state government on Monday mentioned that “parks may remain open for morning walks, physical exercise etc during 6AM to 9AM and only vaccinated people shall be allowed”. The notification will be effective from Wednesday.

While making the announcement at Nabanna on Monday afternoon, chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi stressed that only those who had taken both doses of a Covid vaccine would be allowed in parks.

The civic authorities in Calcutta said they would need more clarification on how to check the vaccination status of the visitors. Will a soft copy of the vaccination certificate do? Or should the visitors be asked to carry a printed copy of the certificate.

A number of morning visitors do not carry any stuff with them as they find it difficult to run or walk with even a mobile phone in hand.

Officials of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) said they were not sure whether they would open the parks on Wednesday in the absence of clarifications from the government.

The CMC manages about 700 small and large parks in the city. Not all have guards, who are supposed to check the vaccination status of the visitors before allowing them in. At many parks the staff comprises only gardeners.

The CMDA manages some of the largest parks of the city such as Rabindra Sarobar, Subhas Sarobar and Vivekananda Park.

While announcing a slew of relaxations of the Covid curbs, chief secretary Dwivedi told a news conference at Nabanna that parks would stay open from 6am to 9am. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee interrupted him and said: “Only those who have taken vaccines will be allowed.”

Dwivedi then added: “Only those who have been vaccinated can enter the parks. Taking both doses is mandatory to be able to enter parks.” 

An official of the CMC said they were not sure how to go about checking whether a visitor had been fully vaccinated or not. “I do not know how far practicable it would be to check everyone’s vaccination status. We have seen the order. We will discuss and take a decision tomorrow,” said a senior CMC official.

The CMC official said that many of the 700 parks managed by them did not have guards or or gardeners.

A CMDA official, too, said they would need more clarity on how to check the vaccination status.

“We will need a day to make the parks ready. We will also need some clarity on the order,” said the official.

All parks were open till May 14. They were closed down with the imposition of stricter Covid norms across the state on May 15.

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