The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has requested people not to visit beaches for the Chhath Puja celebrations on November 10 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Hindustan Times reported on Friday. The civic body has asked citizens to celebrate the festival at artificial ponds.

As a part of Chhath puja’s rituals, devotees stand in waterbodies to worship the sun. The advisory comes as a precautionary measure as the gatherings could potentially lead to spreading of the coronavirus infection as devotees often crowd river banks.

“Keeping in mind the crowding witnessed at sea shores during Chhath Puja, following the Covid-19 protocol including maintenance of social distancing would not be possible, hence, mass celebration of Chhath Puja at sea shores should be avoided and the police must ensure that there is no crowding,” Mumbai’s municipal body said.

The municipal body’s circular also added that only 200 people will be allowed in an open area for celebrations and 100 at closed venues, according to the Hindustan Times. The organisers of the festival would have to ensure thermal screening of the devotees before they participate in the celebrations.

“Organisations that are asking for permissions at the ward level should construct artificial ponds at their own cost and even fill up the ponds after Chhath Puja is over,” the municipal body said. “This will be the responsibility of the organisation applying for the permission.”

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party corporator Vinod Mishra has asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to allow Chhath celebrations at the beaches. Mishra described the municipal body’s recommendation of construction of an artificial pond as unfair.

He said that other festivals were celebrated at the seashore in a “limited manner”.

“Also, the BMC must create artificial ponds to avoid crowding and not put the responsibility on the organisers,” Mishra said, according to the Hindustan Times.