Christmas festivities subdued in India amid fears of Omicron-driven third wave

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Christmas festivities in India’s capital are subdued as fears of an Omicron-driven third wave rise. Even though the country’s official tally of Omicron cases stood at 358 on Friday, authorities have officially canceled New Year and Christmas celebrations. Now, many other states are following suit.

The Delhi government has banned public Christmas and New Year celebrations. Hotels and restaurants have been allowed to operate at half their capacity.

But officials have warned that if cases of COVID-19 rise, they may impose a lockdown. Other states are already stepping up measures.

Two of the largest states in the country have imposed night curfews, effectively curbing large festive gatherings. Some of the oldest Churches in New Delhi are taking precautionary steps even without government intervention.

A discussion on India’s response to the Omicron variant: 

Churches are limiting the number of attendees during service on Christmas Eve and are opting to do away with nativity scenes to avoid large gatherings.

Before the pandemic, millions from different faiths would visit the church to watch the tableau. But in the city’s iconic Christmas markets the footfall is still very high.

Thousands are flocking every day to purchase Christmas decorations or even to taste the local cuisine.

Businesses are hoping to make up for their losses of the past year. But worry that if cases surge and officials impose a lockdown, they may have to shut for good.

The head of India’s COVID-19 task force has warned that if there is a Europe-like surge in infections, one and a half million daily COVID-19 cases could be seen in the next two months. That’s why health experts say a quiet Christmas and New Year’s Day may be the way to go especially as millions in the country are still vulnerable to COVID-19. Author- Ishan Garg

SABC News Correspondent Ishan Garg reports from India: