Assam issues guidelines for Rongali Bihu celebration amid COVID surge

245 COVID-19 positive cases were detected in the state on April 9 after 22,888 tests were conducted.

The Assam health department on Friday issued a set of COVID-appropriate guidelines for Rongali Bihu and other festivals in the wake of a fresh wave of positive cases in the state.

Among other norms to be adhered to by organisers and people, the Bihu organising committees have been directed to hold the Bihu programmes in open spaces and end all events by 11 pm.

245 COVID-19 positive cases were detected in the state on April 9 after 22,888 tests were conducted.

Rongali or Bohag Bihu will be celebrated across the state from April 14 onwards.

According to the fresh guidelines, the event organisers are to seek permission from the district administration for organising any event resulting in a public gathering, mentioning the number of people likely to gather at the proposed event and the maximum capacity of the place/site where the event is proposed to be held.

“All the organisers and volunteers involved in the organisation of functions and festivals must test themselves for COVID-19 three days before and after the event. Necessary help from the nearest government/private testing facility may be taken,” the guidelines of the department read.

Besides, the event spot/site should be spacious and must be kept open from all sides.

The event area must have adequate space for the arrangement of physical distancing (as per COVID-19 protocol). There should be multiple entry and exit gates and must be separate. Organisers must take measures to avoid crowding.

“Every participant should be screened for fever using thermal scanners by the volunteers, and anyone having higher temperature may be advised to report to the nearest health facility for testing and should not be allowed to enter the event area,” it read.

Proper signage must be there from entry to exit so that visitors are guided to adhere to COVID appropriate behaviour once they enter the event area.

“The sitting arrangements should be made in such a way that required social distancing is maintained between the chairs,” the guidelines read.

The organisers have been directed to keep enough volunteers inside and outside the event area to ensure that visitors maintain physical distancing, wear masks properly, and sanitise hands while visiting the event area.

Volunteers themselves must follow COVID appropriate behaviour while interacting with visitors.

“Proper usage of the masks is mandatory for visitors/organisers. Provision of hand sanitizers must be kept at the entry gate and even in the nearby area, including the parking area. The event area must be sanitised twice daily (once before the crowd gathers and once after the crowd leaves the venue) as a strict public health measure,” it read.

Using print, electronic and social media must be optimally done to generate mass awareness about the COVID-19 protocols for organising the event. 

“Organising committee members must put up posters and signage in the event area for encouraging people to get vaccinated and for following COVID appropriate behaviour,” it added.

State health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday said that the state has geared up its COVID management strategies and taken up need-based steps to contain the spread of the virus.

It may be mentioned that the Rongali Bihu celebration could not be held last year owing to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

(Edited by Laxmi Chyrmang)

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