In the petition filed by the South Goa Advocate Association in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in our country and its harmful effects in Goa. On 6th May 2021, the Division Bench of Justices MS Sonak and MS Jawalkar of the Bombay High Court gave an order to the Government of Goa to ensure that a person without the COVID negative certificate (obtained within 72 hours before entering the state) cannot enter the state. The Court held that this interim order shall come into effect from 10th May 2021 and the government was told to publish this direction immediately in order to notify travellers and tourists.
While addressing one of the issues raised by the petitioner regarding the adopted measure to prevent further spread of COVID in the state. High Court suggested that the State Govt. should impose such restrictions in the public interest. The bench stated that it is better to impose the minimum restrictions to restrict the further transmission of the virus.
The Court also opined that Goa is a desirable tourist spot because of entry without a mandatory COVID test report, the court stated that it was neither reasonable for the residents of Goa enduring an over troubled clinical framework nor to the clueless vacationers who are frequently forced to avail the overstretched facilities at a more exorbitant cost.
The Court also acknowledged the issue of essential supplies and the entrance of the persons involved in essential supplies. When pointed out by the Advocate General that the State of Goa is highly dependent on the neighbouring state for the essential supplies and the demand of negativity certificate will again impact the chain of supplies. He further added that sealing of border during these times are not even supported by Central Govt. HC asked the State to formulate a protocol to deal with this and such protocol should ensure that at the time of entrance, not a single person is COVID positive.
HC further distinguished the sealing of the border from the mandating COVID negativity certificate by stating that this situation is not of sealing the borders, here only preventive steps are to be taken by allowing entry only to the COVID negative persons to confine the further spread. Without restriction on entry, it is nearly impossible to estimate the actual active COVID cases entering into Goa. The Court also stated that the State of Maharasthra has also mandated it. As the positivity rate in Goa is 52%, Bombay High Court found no justification for not insisting upon a negativity certificate from persons who seek entry into Goa.
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