In a departure from his usual practice of visiting Shree Jagannath Temple at Puri on the New Year Day every year to offer prayers for the welfare of the state, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Saturday sought the divine blessings from his residence in the state capital.

In view of the COVID-19 restrictions and the 12th-century shrine being closed to avoid crowding, Patnaik paid obeisance to Lord Jagannath from his home, a video released by Naveen Niwas', the residence of the chief minister, showed.

Later, in a video conferencing with IAS and IPS officers, the chief minister wished them on the occasion.

In a message, the chief minister also greeted the people and urged them to follow Covid appropriate behaviour.

Still there is fear of Corona. We can face the challenge if we remain alert. Therefore, I appeal to all to follow COVID-19 protocol and keep self and family members safe, it said.

Though Odisha's Secretariat building Loka Seva Bhavan' was open, the state government had banned New Year celebrations in government offices and exchange of flowers or sweets because of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

Apart from Puri Jagannath Temple, all major places of worship and picnic sports too remained closed for two days to avoid crowding.

The state government had prohibited New Year celebrations in hotels, clubs, and restaurants.

People from all walks of life, ranging from politicians to school students, took to social media to exchange greetings.