Guwahati: With the festival of Durga Puja round the corner, Assam government on Tuesday has issued a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Durga Puja celebration to keep spread of COVID-19 in check.
Addressing a press conference in city, health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the Durga Puja festival is a major challenge for the government and the people to ensure that there is no further spread of the virus.
The minister said that, while there will be no restriction in organising the Puja, the permission of the district administration has to be taken and not more than 50 people can be present together in the pandal.
The pandals are to be kept open with adequate space and separate entry and exit points, with all visitors and devotees compulsorily wearing face masks and using hand sanitisers.
No cultural function or competition can be organised and the pandals have to close at 10 pm every night.
The minister further said that all priests, committee members and volunteers associated with the Puja have to mandatorily get tested for COVID-19 a day before the Puja starts and a day after it ends.
Also, to ensure no mass gathering during Dashami, immersion of idols will be phased over two-three days and no procession will be allowed.
The guidelines also include that no pillion riders will be allowed during Puja barring ladies who will only be allowed for pillion riding.
On the overall COVID-19 situation in the state, the minister said that the number of new cases has been decreasing since the beginning of this month.
The growing awareness among the public and self-isolation in case symptoms has been crucial in controlling the spread of the virus, he added.