Coronavirus | Festive events only outside containment zones: Health Ministry

Health Ministry releases standard operating procedures on preventive measures to contain spread of COVID-19 during festivities

No festive events will be allowed in the containment zones and persons above 65 years, those with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below 10 years are advised to stay at home, the Union Health Ministry says in the “Standard operating procedures on preventive measures to contain spread of COVID-19 during festivities” released on Tuesday. The rule applies to event managers and staff as well.

The document notes that October, November and December witness large gatherings in specified locations for religious worships, fairs, rallies, exhibitions, cultural functions, processions etc., which may last a day or a week or more.

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“Following the protocol is essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection”, says the Ministry.

The document says that organisers/staff/visitors from the containment zones shall not be permitted in areas where festive events are organised. People residing in the containment zones may be encouraged to observe all festivals inside their homes and not move out.

“Keeping in view the physical distancing norms, event sites should have adequate floor area and proper markings at all locations, which are likely to be visited by the public. Adequate manpower shall be deployed/ arranged by the organisers to ensure observance to physical distancing norms and other preventive measures at all times, appropriate arrangements for personal protection gears like face covers/masks, and other logistic like hand sanitizers, soap, sodium hypochlorite solution for sanitizing frequently touched surfaces etc. shall be made available by event organizers/business owners for their staff as per requirements. Adequate number of ticket counters shall be planned to facilitate compliance with physical distancing norms and event organizers/business owners may make suitable provisions for contact less payment,’’ it says.

Multiple and separate entry and exits

Giving detailed regulations of entry and exit at these sites, the Ministry says that preferably multiple and separate entry and exits for visitors shall be ensured.

Also the structure/space/venue for the event must also ensure adequate natural cross-ventilation and the entrances should have mandatory hand-hygiene and thermal screening provisions.

“Only those staff and visitors who are free of symptoms shall be allowed inside the venue and anyone found symptomatic during thermal screening should be politely refused entry and advised to seek immediate medical care. All staff and visitors are allowed entry only if using face cover/masks and this should be worn by all at all times while in public places,’’ states the document.

People should have a physical distance of a minimum of 6 feet when queuing up for entry and inside the venue as far as feasible.

Specific marking for the purpose may be done and proper crowd management inside and outside premises like parking lots, waiting areas, stalls and eateries etc. — duly following physical distancing norms shall be ensured.

Also for entry into the religious places, shoes / footwear to be preferably taken off inside their own vehicle.

“If needed they should be kept in separate slots for each individual / family by the persons themselves,’’ states the four-page protocol.

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