Kohima: The Government of Nagaland has issued a set of guidelines prohibiting the celebration of the Durga Puja festival, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to an official release the guidelines were issued on Friday where the Government has stipulated that setting up of Puja pandals may be allowed only outside containment zones and the timing for the visit of the devotees shall be from 5 AM till 9 PM.
A maximum number of persons including organisers allowed in the Puja pandals should be up to 50 per cent of the capacity, subject to adherence to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour such as maintenance of social distancing, wearing of masks and other Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
Among other measures, the puja organisers have been directed not to allow any person to enter the Puja premises without face cover or mask and washing & sanitizing of hands. Organizers have also been asked to ensure that markings are made in the waiting area or queue outside the premises to ensure social distancing, along with deployment of volunteers or private security to assist the police in ensuring the wearing of face masks, social distancing. The organizers should ensure sanitizing the premises before opening it for the people and after closing it as well and every 6 hours during the day, it added.
All visitors to the Puja location shall be subject to thermal scanning by the organizers and no person with any symptoms related to COVID-19 shall be allowed to enter the Puja pandals. In case any person or visitor to the Puja pandal is suspected to be symptomatic with COVID- 19, it shall be the responsibility of the organizers to inform the nearest government medical facility and arrange for shifting of such person to that medical facility, the guideline stated.
It also advised persons above 65 years of age, children below 10 years of age, people with co-morbidities and pregnant women to avoid visiting the Puja pandals.
District Task Force has been asked to make necessary arrangements with the concerned Puja committees or organizers to ensure that immersion of the idols was suitably staggered so as to avoid congestion and large gatherings at the immersion sites. Concerned district Commissioner of Police or Superintendent of Police will make necessary arrangements for security and traffic.
The Government has cautioned that any violation of the guidelines would attract action as per legal provisions against the Puja committee, organizer or the individual or devotee as the case may be, the release said.