Festive events to be permitted only outside containment zones; health ministry issues SOPs
With the festive season posing a major challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union health ministry has issued guidelines for large gatherings, including ensuring adequate area for events with a detailed site map and proper markings to maintain social distancing and not allowing touching of idols and holy books, to prevent the spread of infection.
Physical numbers, staggered timings and restricted entry are advised during events such as exhibitions, fairs, puja pandals, ramlila pandals or concerts and plays organised in the next few months during the festive season, state Union health ministry standard operating procedures issued on Tuesday to help contain the spread of infection.
The advisory also stated that volunteers should be appropriately stationed to ensure thermal scanning, physical distancing and wearing of masks. There should also be a pre-identified space to isolate suspected cases near each event venue.
Close circuit cameras will also have to be put at multiple locations in the venue to monitor the compliance of physical distance norms.
“In case of events that go on for days or weeks, the crowd density doesn’t remain the same throughout and usually peaks around certain hours of the day and some auspicious days. Planning the event should specifically factor this so that crowds are regulated and physical distance and frequent sanitisation are ensured,” note the health ministry’s guidelines.
“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.”
Having an ambulance facility in place has been made mandatory for events such as long-distance rallies and processions.
Experts say that it is important to be extra careful during the festive season as crowding could lead to a spurt in cases.
Apart from these measures, the ministry has prohibited any such event in containment zones,.
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.
However, the state authorities have been given a free hand to make changes based on local requirements.
“The competent authority may implement additional measures within their jurisdiction as per their local assessment and in line with activities permitted by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA),” the advisory further reads.