Port Blair, Oct. 1: This year Durga Puja is being organised and celebrated in the middle of unprecedented pandemic. This demands proper and adequate health safety measures for the citizens. Puja Committees must ensure the health and safety norms for themselves and for the participants and visitors.

In pursuance of the discussion and the resolutions in the Co-ordination meeting of the District Administration authorities with Durga Puja organisers/ club representatives on 24th Sept. 2020, the following guidelines are notified for the information and necessary action.

  1. Spacious Open Pandals with Separate Entry-Exit

Pandals shall have to be spacious and should be kept open from all sides. If in case it becomes essential to have closed ceiling, the sides will have to be kept open and if the sides have to be blocked, the ceiling has to be kept open.

Pandals must keep adequate space and arrangements for ensuring physical distancing in terms of the existing COVID-19 protocols.

There should be separate Entry and Exit arrangements with separate gates.

Floor markings such as circles and other signages should be made on entry and exit routes and assembly points to ensure compliance of physical distancing norms.

  1. Compulsory Thermal Screening and Hand Sanitizer at Entry Points

Every person entering the pandal shall be thermally scanned.

Use of masks shall be compulsory for all visitors visiting the pandals.

Use and availability of foot based/ contactless hand sanitizer should be made compulsory in the pandal and neighbourhood.

Committees shall be responsible for making people wear the masks compulsorily.

  1. Volunteers and Decongested Rituals

Puja Organisers must keep volunteers in adequate number for ensuring compliance of the norms of physical distancing, wearing of masks and use of hand sanitizers among visitors.

Volunteers themselves should wear face masks and face shields for safety.

Keeping in view the health safety of participants and organisers, Anjili, Prasad Bitoran or Sindoor Khela should be organised by Puja Committees in a planned manner and to the extent possible in smaller groups with spaced out timings in a staggered way.

Distribution of cut fruits and community feast is not allowed.

Priests should use microphones to utter the mantra so that the sound reaches worshippers standing far away and people do not have to assemble closely in small spaces.

Devotees may be encouraged to offer Anjali with flowers brought from homes, so that the flower collection points in the pandals do not become congestion points.

  1. No Cultural Programme

Cultural programme in / near the Puja pandal premises shall not be allowed.

  1. Award judging programmes are not allowed.
  2. Live streaming of Puja shall be compulsory

Electronic and social media should be used by the organisers and public authorities to make people aware to avoid large assembly and crowding on roads and near pandals

  1. Low-key Inaugurations and Immersions

Inaugurations and immersions should be low-key and minimalist event without much pomp and grandeur.

Wherever possible, inauguration should be in virtual mode

Immersion spots shall be properly sanitised before and during immersions with arrangements that facilitate the required physical distancing norms under current situation.

Idol must be taken to the immersion spots directly without and stopover at any place avoiding unnecessary diversions. Procession and loudspeakers are not allowed during immersion.

  1. Permission from DC Office

Committees organising Durga Puja Pandals shall take permission from District Administration and submit an undertaking that all the COVID-19 protocols and SOPs shall be adhered to while organising the Durga Puja Festival

  1. Spacing out the festivities over larger number of days

Adherence to the physical distancing norms and other health safety measures that are required to be ensured during the current times may need spacing out the festival over larger number of days.

Puja Committees should make necessary advance planning that facilitates visit to Puja pandals from Tritia itself.

  1. Only 100 persons per day per Pandal shall be allowed in a staggered manner. Persons who want to visit a particular Pandal shall have to get necessary e-pass which will be generated online (URL will be communicated shortly)
  2. All Pandals shall display a board or banner in a prominent place showing the right way of wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands and respiratory etiquettes.