The 45th edition of the International Kolkata Book fair will be a 14-day affair starting January 31 and continuing till February 13 at Central Park in Salt Lake, the Publishers and Booksellers Guild said.
The organisers will shrink the size of the stalls to create more open spaces in the fairground. Even the number of people entering a stall at a given point of time will be restricted to ensure proper distancing, the guild said.
This is the first time in several decades when the book fair will be a fortnight affair, the usual tenure being 12 days.
Visitors will not be allowed to enter without masks and across all the eight fair gates, arrangements will be made for providing masks. All visitors will have to undergo thermal checks at the entry point and separate counters will be set up to provide sanitisers, officials said.
With close to 600 participants and another 250-plus little magazine publishers, the book fair has seen stalls varying in sizes ranging from nine square metres to 144 square metres with three sides covered. “Since the number of participants can’t be brought down — the book fair was not held this year — we will reduce the size of the stalls,” said Sudhangshu Sekhar Dey, the Guild's president.
Guild officials said each of the stall owners would have to produce certificates of double vaccination for him and the staff to qualify for allotment.
“We will also prefer double vaccination certificates from the visitors as well,” said Tridib Kumar Chatterjee, the Guild's general secretary. “Efforts are on to introduce e-passes where one can upload the double vaccination certificate and walk in through the fair gates.”
Guild officials said this year the number of guards on duty would be scaled up and one of their tasks would be to ensure no one was moving around either without a mask or masks on their chins.
Separate spaces will be allocated for setting up medical camps with doctors and nurses trained in handling patients with Covid-like complications.
The 2021 book fair will have Bangladesh as the theme country. Guild officials said this was aimed at paying tribute to the golden jubilee year of the nation’s independence. The 45th edition will also take the opportunity to celebrate the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The fair’s international complex will have participants from several other countries. Organisers said they might have to cut down on the usual number of pavilions from three to two to make for more space within the fair ground and avoid crowding.