Festive events only outside COVID-19 containment zones: Health Ministry guidelines for festivals


New Delhi: As the festive season is just around the corner, the central government on Tuesday (October 6, 2020) issued several important guidelines to contain the spread of COVID-19 during festivities. The government has released these guidelines because the coming months will witness festivals like Navratri, Durga Puja, Dussehra, Dhanteras, Diwali, Eid, Christmas and a large number of people will gather in specified locations for religious worship, fairs, rallies, exhibitions, cultural functions, processions etc. 

“These events usually last a day or a week or more. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection, it is important that necessary preventive measures are followed for such events,” said Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Persons above 65 years of age, persons with comorbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home. This applies to the event managers and staff as well.

The festivals, fairs, rallies, exhibitions, cultural functions, processions and plays/ concerts associated with these festivities are mass events and the following administrative requirement is advised:

i. Identify spatial boundaries and prepare a detailed site plan which would facilitate compliance with thermal screening, physical distancing, sanitization etc.

ii. In case of events that run for days or weeks, the crowd density doesn’t remain the same throughout and usually peaks around certain hours of the day and some previously known auspicious days. Planning for the event should specifically factor this so that crowds are regulated and managed to ensure physical distance and frequent sanitization.

iii. In case of rallies and immersion processions the number of people should not exceed the prescribed limit and proper physical distancing and wearing of masks must be ensured. In any case, the number of such rallies and the distance covered by them may be kept within manageable limits.

iv. Events such as rallies and processions spread over long distances may require the support of ambulance services.

v. 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.

vi. Volunteers should be appropriately stationed to ensure thermal scanning, physical distancing and wearing of masks.

vii. The guidelines issued for theatre and cinema artists will apply to stage performers.

viii. Adequate supplies of sanitizers, thermal guns and physical distancing floor markings to be ensured.

ix. Pre-identification of space/ site in each event venue for isolation of suspect cases.

x. Close circuit cameras etc. may be considered to monitor compliance of physical distance norms, wearing of masks at each venue.

xi. In case of rallies and processions, route planning, identification of immersion sites, ensuring cap on numbers, physical distancing etc. must be planned beforehand and measures for enforcement outlined.

xii. All events must plan for medical care arrangements with linkages to nearest hospitals to attend to health emergencies.

xiii. Individuals must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet in public places as far as feasible.

xiv. Use of face covers/masks to be mandatory.

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