Only fully vaccinated bibliophiles can visit the 45th International Kolkata Book Fair, which will be held for two weeks from January 31 next year, organisers said on Friday.
The event, which is the largest in the world in terms of footfall, was last held in early 2020 before the COVID-19 outbreak. This year too, it will be organised in the usual venue of Central Park in Salt Lake.
"Following West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's nod to the event in the wake of improvement in the COVID-19 situation, we will organise the biggest book carnival in the country from January 31 in the full duration by adhering to all safety measures," Tridib Chatterjee, general secretary of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, organisers of the event, told the reporters.
Only those possessing double vaccination certificates and wearing masks covering their noses will be allowed to enter the venue, he said.
"We are planning to introduce free e-passes. People can also virtually take part in the book fair by clicking on a designated link," Chatterjee said.
The birth centenary of 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the golden jubilee of Bangladesh independence will be celebrated at the book fair this year, he said.
"We also plan to invite Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the inauguration but we are not sure whether she would be able to spare time for it," Chatterjee said.
Tributes will also be paid to actor Soumitra Chatterjee, poet Sankha Ghosh, director Buddhadeb Dasgupta, writer Buddhadeb Guha, politician Subrata Mukherjee and other prominent personalities who have died in the last two years.
Publishers from outside the state and abroad will also take part in the event, he said.
Guild president Sudhanshu Dey said the book stalls will be erected in a manner so that social distancing is ensured as there is ample space on the ground.
"We will soon divulge all modalities and how we plan to go ahead with the measures," he said to questions on how physical distancing and scrutiny for double vaccination certificates of lakhs of visitors will be ensured in a full-proof manner.
He said the itinerary of the literary festival will be declared later.
To a query, Dey said the guild is mulling the possibility of organising the event in a 'hybrid manner' (both physically at the venue and also through live streaming).
The West Bengal government had earlier this week announced that the 2021 and 2022 editions of the book fair will be held in a combined manner from January 31, 2022.