No Holi celebrations allowed this year in Delhi, Mumbai, others over COVID-19 fears

No Holi celebrations allowed this year in Delhi, Mumbai, others over COVID-19 fears
With the festive season around the corner and many places in India seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, many states and cities have banned Holi celebrations to prevent crowds and increased risk of transmission. While some places have banned public gatherings for the festival, which falls on March 29, others have also banned private and community celebrations. The district and civic authorities in Pune on Wednesday announced that Holi celebrations in public and private places are banned amid a surge in the daily count of COVID-19 infections. With this, Pune joins a list of several states and cities in the country that have banned Holi celebrations in light of the pandemic. In an official order, Pune District Collector Rajesh Deshmukh said in light of the rise in cases of coronavirus, Holi celebrations in public spaces such as hotels, resorts and other public spots in the rural areas are banned. Housing societies are also not permitted to hold Holi celebrations on their premises on March 28 and 29, the order stated. The Pune Municipal Corporation has also banned celebrations in resorts, hotels, open spaces and housing societies within the city limits. Strict action will be taken against violators of the order under relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, it was stated. Like Pune, Mumbai has also banned public, community and private celebrations of Holi and Rangpanchami. Other places that have imposed curbs are Delhi, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Odisha, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has also directed that public celebration and gathering, congregation during upcoming festivals such as Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Navratri etc. will not be allowed in public places, including parks, markets, religious places. An order in this regard has been issued by Delhi Chief Secretary. The decision has come hours after Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who is also chairperson of DDMA, held a review meeting on increasing Covid-19 cases in the national capital on Monday. The Haryana government has also banned public celebrations of upcoming Holi festival in the wake of the rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the recent weeks. During the past few days, Haryana has been reporting over 800 new cases daily. "The Haryana government has banned public celebrations of Holi in view of (rise in number of cases of) coronavirus," Home and Health Minister Anil Vij said in a tweet. Chandigarh will also not see Holi celebrations as authorities have banned public gatherings for the festival even at clubs and hotels. In Gujarat, while Holi celebrations have been banned, Holika Dahan will be allowed with restriction on crowds. In Uttar Pradesh, the state government has banned processions or gatherings in public spaces without prior permission. Those above 60 years of age as well as those below 10 years will not be allowed to attend these gatherings. Further, the Union government on Wednesday also asked states and union territories to consider imposing local restrictions in public observance of the upcoming festivals and limit or do away with mass gatherings for effective control of the pandemic. Additional Secretary in the Health Ministry Arti Ahuja, in a letter to state chief secretaries and union territory administrators, stated that the battle against COVID-19 is at a critical juncture with rising number of cases and deaths being reported from many parts in the recent past. "...in view of upcoming festivals such as Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Bihu, Easter and Eid-ul-Fitr, etc., it is strongly advised that states may consider imposing local restrictions in public observance of these festivals and limit/do away with mass gatherings in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 22 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005," the letter read. (With agency inputs)

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