Odisha Government on Wednesday issued guidelines for local festivals during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation. Special Relief Commissioner, Pradeep Jena has directed to Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack, All Collectors, All Superintendents of Police and Municipal Commissioners to strictly enforce the stipulations. The order release from the government informed about prohibition of congregations at river banks, ghats, ponds, seashore or near other water bodies to take bath. Prohibition of organisation/celebration mela, Prohibition of religious congregations/ celebrations, it read. Religious rituals are allowed in religious places/ places of worship with bare minimum priests, servitors and staff.
If required, considering local conditions, appropriate restrictions may be imposed on the entry of devotees into churches, temples, mosques, religious places, places of worship and in the celebrations in respective places, the order said. Collectors, Municipal Commissioners may decide the number of persons to attend any such religious ritual, festival and Puja in their respective jurisdictions with strict adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour and norms. The devotees in these places must ensure Covid-19 safety protocols such as wearing face masks, physical distancing and handwashing and hand sanitizing. In case of violation of COVID-19 safety protocols, local authorities can take strict action including criminal action under relevant acts including Disaster Management Act, 2005. Such violation shall entail fines for devotees as decided by the local authorities, the order read.