The Nagaland government has issued guidelines for the celebration of the forthcoming Durga puja, allowing pandals to be set up only at temples in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, an official said.
The guidelines issued by the principal secretary, Home Department, R Ramakrishnan on Thursday said as Durga Puja pandals usually see a congregation of a large number of people, it is imperative that suitable regulations are put in place and appropriate measures are taken during the celebration to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Durga Puja pandals will be allowed to be set up only in temples and no pandal shall be allowed to be erected on and by the side of any road, it said, adding that no stalls shall be set up near pandals.
The four-day Durga Puja will be held from October 23 to 26.
The guidelines said that a maximum of 30 people including organisers and priests shall be allowed to gather at any time in puja pandals.
The puja organisers should not allow any person to enter the puja premises without face cover or mask, Ramakrishnan said, adding that it shall be the responsibility of puja organisers to arrange for facilities for handwashing or sanitisation at the entrance of puja premises.
All visitors to the puja pandals shall be subject to thermal scanning by puja organisers and no person with any symptom related to COVID-19 shall be allowed to enter the puja pandals, the guidelines said. Devotees can visit the temples from 5 am till 10 pm and the organisers should ensure sanitisation of the premises before opening and after closing and every six-hours during the day, it said.
People above 65 years of age, children below 10 years of age and persons with comorbidities and pregnant women may be advised to avoid visiting the puja pandals, he said.
The respective District Task Force headed by the Deputy Commissioner should also make necessary arrangements with the concerned puja committees to ensure that immersion of the idols is suitably staggered so as to avoid congestion and large gatherings at the immersion sites, it said.