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Delhi eases Covid norms, allows cinema halls to reopen with full seating capacity

Chhath Puja celebrations permitted at designated sites except Yamuna river bank

Our Bureau, PTI New Delhi Published 29.10.21, 08:21 PM
DDMA also raised the number of people allowed to attend weddings and last rites from 100 to 200.

DDMA also raised the number of people allowed to attend weddings and last rites from 100 to 200. File picture

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Friday issued an order allowing full-seating capacity in cinema halls, theatres and multiplexes, and also raised the number of people allowed to attend weddings and last rites from 100 to 200.

The order, listing various allowed and restricted activities because of the Covid pandemic, will come into effect from November 1.

It stated that owners of cinema halls, theatres and multiplexes will be responsible for strict adherence to standard operating protocol (SOP), official guidelines and Covid-appropriate behaviour at the premises.

"In case any violation is found, strict penal, criminal action shall be taken against the owner of the restaurant, bar, cinemas, theatres and multiplexes," said the order.

Cinemas, theatres, multiplexes in the city were closed with the imposition of lockdown in April amid a raging second wave of Covid infections. They were allowed to reopen with 50 per cent seating capacity in the last week of July.

The order also allowed meetings and conferences in banquet halls of the city. So far, only marriages and exhibitions were allowed there.

The order permitted funeral and marriage-related gatherings with a ceiling of 200 people. During the Covid surge in April, attendance at funerals was scaled down to 20 while marriages were permitted with the presence of 50 people.

With improvement in the Covid situation, 100 people were allowed in both types of gatherings.

All classes in schools will also resume from November 1 according to the order. This decision was taken in a meeting of DDMA earlier this week because of appreciable improvement in the Covid situation in the city. Senior classes (nine to 12) were restarted earlier with a maximum 50 per cent seating capacity.

All social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious gatherings will remain prohibited. However, festival-related gatherings will be allowed according to the DDMA's September 30 order.

Restaurants and bars will continue to open with a 50 per cent seating capacity. Delhi Metro and public transport buses will ply with full seating capacity but no standing passengers will be allowed, stated the order.

All the allowed and restricted activities will be permitted till the intervening night of November 15-16 or till any further orders, it added.

Chhath Puja celebrations

The DDMA on Friday allowed Chhath Puja celebrations at designated sites in the city except the banks of Yamuna river.

The directions were issued in an order released on Friday.

The celebration of Chhath Puja during the month of November shall be allowed only at designated sites outside containment zones with requisite permission from the district magistrate. No site shall be designated on the bank of river Yamuna, the DDMA order said.

The DDMA had on Wednesday given its nod to Chhath Puja in Delhi.

The authority further said designated sites shall be identified and managed by the respective district magistrate in coordination with departments and agencies concerned.

Chhath, celebrated after Diwali by people belonging to Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, involves offering of 'Arghya' by fasting women to the Sun god in knee-deep water.

The order clearly stated that strict adherence of Covid-appropriate behaviour, which include wearing mask, social distancing, and use of sanitiser, is mandatory.

The order said at designated sites, puja material offered by devotees should be collected by the municipal authorities concerned and other relevant agencies for immediate and proper disposal in a scientific manner.

"All devotees shall be strictly prohibited from throwing puja material like food grain, oil etc into river Yamuna.

"It shall be ensured that no such material is permitted to join the main stream of river at any point," the DDMA order stated.

It also asked all organisers of Chhath Puja to submit an undertaking to the district magistrate of the area in respect of strict adherence of the guidelines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Yamuna Monitoring Committee.

The DDMA order also said that people, including devotees and organisers, will have to follow guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in October last year.

On October 6, 2020, the Union Health Ministry has issued standard operating procedure for festival season where it had said that individuals shall maintain minimum six feet distance in public places.

It had also made mandatory wearing of face masks. It had asked authorities for pre-planning in case of mass gathering and ensure separate entry and exit of visitors.

Earlier, in an order issued on September 30, the DDMA had prohibited Chhath celebrations at public places, including at riverbanks, water bodies and temples, in view of the threat posed by COVID-19.

Following this, the BJP staged protest and also at the residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and demanded that Chhath celebrations should be allowed.

Later on October 14, Kejriwal wrote a letter to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to allow Chhath Puja in Delhi.

The DDMA earlier this week allowed Chhath Puja celebrations in Delhi in a meeting attended by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and Kejriwal.

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