Amid the ongoing Covid wave, the government has decided to “significantly” curtail the number of people who will physically attend the Republic Day celebrations this year. And, like last time, this year, too, there will be no foreign dignitary as the chief guest.
Until last week, the Defence Ministry was preparing to accommodate around 24,000 people. That number is likely to be trimmed down to 5,000 to 8,000 guests this year, senior officials said on Tuesday.
As part of the curbs, children under the age of 15 years will not be allowed to attend the parade.
In 2021, when Republic Day fell between two waves of the pandemic, around 25,000 guests were allowed, a drastic reduction from the pre-Covid attendance figure of 1.25 lakh.
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This year, strict Covid-19 protocols will be followed, officials said, with masks being made mandatory. At the time of entry, double vaccination certificates of the attendees will be checked, along with thermal screening and hand sanitisation. There will be medical help available.
In case any attendee has even mild temperature, entry will be denied, as only asymptomatic individuals will be allowed entry. Further, there will be Covid booths at entry areas and if anyone with symptoms arrives, he or she will be isolated in these.
Both, when they enter and exit, and when they are seated a distance of at least 6 feet will have to be maintained. Ten large LED screens will be put up on Rajpath for convenience of the attendees, which will show the live event.
An official said “special efforts” are on to welcome those who “typically do not get an opportunity to attend the parade”. To that effect, seats will be earmarked for those in essential services, like auto-rickshaw drivers, construction and sanitation workers and frontline health workers.
With the ongoing controversy around which states will have their tableaux participate, the official said tableaux from 12 states and Union Territories have been selected: Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Nine Central ministries will have their tableaux: Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship; Civil Aviation; Post in the ministry of Communication; Home Affairs; Housing and Urban Affairs; Textiles, Law and Justice; Jal Shakti; and Culture.
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