The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the government to control the crowding in public places to prevent a Covid-19 surge similar to last year’s that had subsequently resulted into the devastating second wave, PTI reported. It also urged citizens to be cautious.

The court was particularly concerned about photographs in newspapers that showed a crowded Juhu Chowpatty and Marine Drive.

“If you [the government] do not control or restrict this, then again the same situation is bound to happen,” said a bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta. “We need to draw from our experience.”

Mumbai in August-September 2020 had come to a standstill after a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases. Of the 9,23,641 cases recorded between January and September 2020 across Maharashtra, Mumbai alone had accounted for 1,57,410 cases.

Officially, over 27,000 people died from Covid in Mumbai between January and September 2020 but 13,08 excess deaths were reported in the same period. Excess deaths is the divergence between all-cause deaths reported this year and in normal years. While all excess deaths are not likely to be due to Covid-19, a majority of them are expected to be linked to the coronavirus disease during the pandemic.

When the second wave arrived in April, Mumbai Police barred any non-essential movement in the city between 5 am and 9 pm.

Justice Datta said that in a High Court’s administrative meeting on Monday, the head of Supreme Court’s special task force, Rahul Pandit, had warned of a “third wave knocking at the door”.

Pandit also said that India may not see a respite from Covid-19 till April 2022, according to the court. He reiterated the importance of protocols to be followed in public places to save the state from the “imminent danger”.

The bench also extended all the interim orders passed by the High Court and other lower courts in Maharashtra and Goa till September 30. The High Court is set to review the situation on September 24.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government banned all public gatherings, including human pyramids as they may lead to the spread of coronavirus, during the Dahi handi event of Janmashthami on Tuesday.

The cultural event is celebrated as part of the Hindu festival of Janmashthami, which marks the birth of deity Krishna. Boys, usually between the ages of five and 18, called “Govindas” form the pyramid to break the curd pot that is suspended by a rope at a height.

“The second wave of the pandemic may have receded but the threat remains,” the guidelines said. “Health experts have expressed concern about a third wave. In view of this, Dahi handi should be celebrated in a simple manner.” The administration also said that residents should instead organise blood donation and health camps, and observe the Dahi handi festival in private.

Mumbai on Monday reported 334 new Covid-19 cases. It has registered more than 300 cases for a sixth day in a row, PTI reported. As many as 7,43,832 people have tested positive since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. Two people died over the last 24 hours taking the toll to 15,976.