The Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Thursday banned the celebration of the Chhath festival at public places and river banks in the national capital in view of the coronavirus pandemic, reported PTI.

The authority allowed gatherings till November 15, but has listed a set of guidelines that organisers of public events need to follow. The guidelines assume significance as apart from Chhath, festivals such as Durga Puja, Dussehra and Diwali will be celebrated during the period.

Chhath is a festival, mostly celebrated by those hailing from the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. As part of the festival’s rituals, devotees stand in water bodies to worship the sun. The ritual could potentially lead to spreading of the coronavirus infection as devotees often crowd river banks.

The festival will be held between November 8 and November 10 this year.

Chhat celebrations involve community rituals and taking dip in a water body, which is unsafe in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic,” a senior Delhi Disaster Management Authority official told the Hindustan Times. “So, we decided not to take the risk and encourage people to celebrate at their residences to avoid crowding.”

Last year too, the Delhi government had banned the celebration of Chhath at public spaces.

In its new Covid-19 guidelines, the disaster management body said that fairs, food stalls, rallies and processions will not be permitted in Delhi during the festival season.

“All event organisers will have to obtain requisite permissions from the district magistrate concerned for organising festival events, well in advance,” the order said. “No permission shall be granted by district magistrates or authorities for conducting any event in containment zones.”

The order said that people will not be allowed to stand or squat at public events during the festivals. The organisers will have to arrange for chairs following physical distancing norms, the order said.

Organisers will also need to ensure that the number of attendees do not exceed the seating capacity of the venue.

In closed spaces, the total seats cannot be more than 200 or 50% of the actual seating capacity of the venue. In open spaces, the sub-divisional magistrate of the area will decide the seating capacity after conducting an assessment of the location.

The organisers will also need to appoint a nodal officer responsible for emergency situations and video-recording the events. The recordings will then have to be submitted to the local police station to check if Covid-19 norms have been violated.

Organisers have to ensure that the attendees are wearing masks and facilities such as toilets, hand wash and sanitisers are available, the order said.

Meanwhile, Delhi recorded 47 new coronavirus case, pushing the infection tally in the national Capital to 14,38,868 since the pandemic broke out in January last year. No deaths were reported and the toll stood at 25,087.