No celebrations activities will be allowed inside any COVID-19 containment zones in the country during the upcoming festival season, the government said today.
"Festive events shall be permitted only outside the containment zones. Organisers/staff/visitors from containment zones shall not be permitted. People residing inside containment zones may be encouraged to observe all festivals inside their homes and not move out," the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has said.
This was part of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Health ministry today for both the public as well as local authorities. These SOPS are to be followed between October and December - a string of festivals like Dussehra, Durga Puja, Diwali, and Christmas will be celebrated in this period - while organising fairs, exhibitions, processions, and other religious and cultural functions.
"Events planned to last for many days or weeks such as exhibitions, fairs, Puja pandals, Ramlila pandals, or concerts, and plays should have adequate measures to ensure a cap on physical numbers. Staggered timings and restricted entry may be considered," the DGHS has said.
The move is an attempt to ensure festival crowds do not fan further spread of the disease in the country which already has the world's second-most number of cases.
Other measures include identification of specific areas for such activities and the provision of ample medical and emergency-care facilities. Besides the mandatory masks and sanitisers, the SOPs also require the presence of ambulances and COVID-19 awareness activities and material at the venues.
Persons above 65 years of age or below 10, those with comorbidities, and pregnant women have been advised to stay at home.