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Goa’s Offshore Casinos Run Into Roadblock as Casino Staff Test COVID-19 Positive

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  • Namita Ghosh November 23, 2020
  • 1 Minute Read

After a woeful seven months, Goa’s casino sector had just started getting back to its feet when fresh trouble has broken out. After local media carried unconfirmed reports of more than two dozen staffers of a prominent offshore casino testing COVID-19 positive, the issue has blown up in the coastal state’s political factions again. Amidst the chaos, Panaji Mayor Uday Madkaikar called a meeting of the casino operators today to underline the urgent need for them to abide by the state’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the sector.

Earlier on Saturday, Madkaikar admitted that casino operators are not following the SOPs. “I have personally seen people crowding outside the casino lobby. There is no social distancing …no wearing of mask…nothing,” he told media persons.

Mayor Uday Madkaikar

 

Madkaikar’s statements came in the wake of the onset of the tourism season in Goa. While casinos are not the only commercial setups identified by the Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP) found wanting in following the set COVID-19 guidelines, this has undoubtedly put the casinos in a tough spot again. Unsurprisingly, political factions like AAP have demanded that the casinos be shut down to avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

 

Political Reactions

On Saturday, Goa’s local media outlets carried reports of possible COVID-19 positive cases on-board an offshore casino moored on Mandovi River. State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane was also questioned by the scribes on the issue, but Rane refused to comment.

Simultaneously, Panjim MLA Babush Monserrate passed the buck to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, saying that it was the CM who had granted casinos permission to resume operations. Monserrate himself took to the streets on Monday with local municipality officials and was seen trying to control the heavy traffic and ensure that casino visitors not wearing masks were fined.

Reacting to the unconfirmed reports, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has demanded that the casino sector be shut down again. AAP spokesman Surel Tilve convened a press conference on Monday where he charged the state government with trying to appease the casino operators, “It is already difficult to control the flow of tourists to Goa’s casinos. It is getting out of control. Covid-19 cases in casinos have also increased. The government is just trying to appease the lobby by allowing this trend to continue.”

Tilve added – “We fear that if the chaos continues, Goa may witness a second Covid-19 wave sooner than later. Goa has a confirmed tally of 46,826 positive cases, while 677 persons have died in the state after testing positive for Covid-19.”

The local government has reportedly found many tourists not following the safety health guidelines. Since this is the prime tourist season for the coastal state and large crowds of visitors have been spotted flocking the casino entrances, both the casino operators and the CCP must come to a workable solution to keep the business running without causing a spurt in COVID-19 cases.

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