Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati
With all of its cases recovered, Goa was declared COVID-19 free on 19 April. Goa was one of the few states in the Green Zone – permitting non-essential travel and services (barring a few).
Unfortunately, on 14 May, seven new patients were identified, all of whom have been quarantined in the state facility. This effectively ends the state’s Green Zone status.
Prior to this day, one could see movement of cars on the highway and people could be seen at the beaches. Given the new development, all of this stands at jeopardy now.
Lyndon Pinto, a local, tells me the changes he had witnessed ever since Goa was put in the Green Zone.
“Every evening I can go for a walk. I can go cycling without a problem. Earlier I would stay home. Other people like me are also doing this. Secondly, supplies are available and I can go and buy from anywhere I want. I don’t need a pass and I won’t be stopped by the cops.”Lyndon Pinto, Local
Ashwin Ghag, a lifeguard who mans the Baga-Calangute stretch, said he feels safety precautions are not being followed by the people on the beaches. No social distancing, very few wearing masks.
“After it was declared a green zone, Goa witnessed locals and tourists back on the beach to swim, stroll and exercise. People can be seen in the waters. Staff at the shacks is back as well.”
By April end, the Goa government had started an online portal service to allow Goans from abroad and other Indian states to return to Goa. By 6 May, around 7,500 had registered seeking to come back to their native place.
Local Businesses Hit
While business establishments (excluding gyms, public swimming pools, spas, restaurants, nightclubs, shacks, hotels and bars) are now open, small businesses have taken a hit because of the complete shutter in Lockdown 1.0. Saffron Wiehl, an artist who owns an art gallery here, tells me,
“We haven’t had any work for the last two months. I had to close the gallery. I also had to keep paying all the salaries which was not too tough, but tough when you’re not making any money.”
Some feel the off-season is to thank.
“Jobs have resumed, there are cars on the road. It feels like we have gone back to normal life except of course there are still a lot of people without jobs for example even some of the hotels, everything is shut. We have no clarity as to what’s going to happen but in a way we are blessed because it is off-season now. Had something like this happened during November or December, it would have been much worse.”Lana De Souza, Restaurateur
Several migrants and wage workers have faced the brunt of the lockdown as well. Luckily, many Goans were involved in active volunteering work, especially in the initial days, and helped distribute food, groceries and other essentials to the needy across the state.
Movement of stranded foreign nationals, persons released from quarantine, stranded migrant workers and students, pilgrims, tourists and other such persons is being facilitated following the guidelines issued by Union Home Ministry.
As per news reports, of lot of ‘connected’ people from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi are coming to Goa in their private vehicles by stating that they are ‘stranded residents’. The locals are not too happy about it and have felt that the government was a bit too eager to announce Goa as COVID-free (this has all changed now, of course!).
“We are not even sure how many cases we have in Goa, we are not even testing that much. People should still take sanitary measures.”Dr Amanda Gomes
As proven by the detection of new cases, Goa is by no means insulated from the spread of coronavirus. Locals and state authorities need to tread with caution as we approach Lockdown 4.0.
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