Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: It is testing time now not only for the people, but also for the State government following a steep rise in Covid-19 cases in the past one week.

For the second time in row, the daily Covid-19 cases crossed the 200-mark in the State on Friday, prompting the government to issue fresh guidelines to contain further spread of the virus.

As per the latest notification issued by the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) on Thursday, any kind of congregation for celebration of upcoming festivals like Good Friday, Easter, Pana Sankranti, Jhamu Jatra, Danda Jatra and Sriram Navami and associated religious and cultural congregations shall not be allowed in public across the State.

The decision has been taken in the interest of public health and for containment of spread of Covid-19.

It is pertinent to mention here that people usually congregate in large numbers during the above mentioned festivals in the State and adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour does not become maintainable. Apart from this, such congregations have a potential to cause spread of the virus.

However, the government has allowed continuation of the rituals at the places of worship.

“Religious rituals in churches , temples, places of worship will continue as usual with limited number of persons with strict adherence to Covid protocols,” the notification added.

Considering local conditions, Collectors and Municipal Commissioners may impose appropriate restrictions on entry of devotees into churches , temples, religious places, places of worship and in the celebrations in churches, temples, religious places and places of worship.

The Collectors and Municipal Commissioners may decide the number of persons to attend any such religious ritual, festival in their respective jurisdictions with strict adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour and norms.

Earlier, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had advised the States to consider imposing local restrictions in public observance of festivals and limit/ do away with mass gatherings in public observance of festivals like Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Bihu, Easter and Eid-ul-Fitr.