Hyderabad: Expressing displeasure at police's laxity in implementing Covid-19 guidelines, Telangana High Court on Thursday asked the state government to ramp up enforcement of COVID­ SOPs.

Around 1,16,467 cases were booked for not wearing masks from March 24, 2020 to April 1, 2021. Apart from booking people for not wearing masks, police have also registered 13,219 cases under Epidemic Act, 8,417 cases under the Disaster Management Act, 2,456 cases for not maintaining physical distancing, 322 cases of large gathering and 6 cases for spitting in public places.

A bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy however said the numbers were not impressive and the police department needs to ramp up the enforcement.

"We could see large numbers of people thronging pubs, bars, wine shops, malls, function halls, and banquet halls by violating the Covid guidelines, but a paltry number of cases have been booked. This meant the enforcement is very lax," the bench observed.

Citing the figures of 2,456 cases booked for not maintaining social distance, the bench felt the number was abysmally low compared to the long queues witnessed outside wine shops, pubs, and bars. The executive authority should swing into action and cancel the licences of wine shops where people flout Covid norms.

The court directed the DGP to submit a report on April 14 as to how many cases were registered against banquet halls and pubs which had allowed more than 200 persons in, in violation of the SOP guidelines.

The court noted that the police had not found any violation of its circular restricting function halls and closed premises from allowing more than 50 percent of seating capacity to be occupied and more than the maximum of 200 persons.

The CJ asked the government why it was not enforcing restrictions on huge gatherings for marriages, other functions, at the cinema halls, pubs, bars, wine shops, clubs, malls, whereas there are restrictions on religious places.

"Many marriages will be held in May, which has many auspicious days and the absence of restrictions could cause a huge spurt in Covid cases," the court said.

The court asked the government to examine the proposal of the high court to issue an advisory requiring every person entering Telangana state to have an RT-PCR test report. This could be considered at least for travelers from states having high rates of infection.

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