All organisers of the Puja Committee must take permission from their respective district administration for organising the Durga Puja this year, according to a notification issued by the Health and Family Welfare department.
The district administration will convene a meeting of all puja committees for a detailed briefing on the protocol/guidelines issued by the government before giving permission, in order to ensure compliance with COVID protocols.
Pandals must be spacious and open from all sides, there must be adequate space for arrangement of physical distancing of at least one metre distance and not more than 10 to 30 persons can gather at a time.
Entry and exit gates must be separate and use of face masks shall be mandatory for all and the organisers must provide masks to any visitor who comes to the pandal without it while hand sanitizer must be kept at the entry and exit gate of the pandal.
The puja pandal must be sanitised twice during the day along with nearby areas as a strict public health measure due to the pandemic.
All the volunteers, priests and organisers must get mandatorily tested on Panchami day and again after immersion.
A priest must use microphone so that devotees need not come close to him and there will be no distribution of 'prasads' or community feasting but packet distribution of prasads can be done to the residences of the devotees by the organisers.
All the puja pandals must be closed to devotees by 10 pm and organising cultural programmes before, during and after Puja days is strictly prohibited.
Dry day is to be declared from the day of Dashami till immersion process gets over while restaurants will be closed at 9 pm and only takeaway food should be allowed, subject to relevant permissions from the government.
The inauguration of puja pandals and immersion of Durga idol should be a low-key affair with minimum people and adhering to all COVID norms with organisers exploring the possibility of inaugurating by virtual mode which is the safest way.
Before immersion, ghat has to be sanitized and the idols should be taken straight for immersion without stopping along the way to avoid any unnecessary crowding.
Immersion must be planned by the district administration in a staggered manner throughout the day by allotting specific time to each committee and if necessary, the process can be staggered over extra days to maintain the COVID protocols.
Adequate support must be given to the Puja committees by the different government departments, NGOs and the media to ensure that it is conducted in a safe manner.
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