The Centre on Friday said that Independence Day celebrations in the country will take place with proper safety measures and crowd restrictions amid the coronavirus crisis. The government released a standard operating procedure for festivities at the national, state and district levels.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the country from the Red Fort in Delhi and unfurl the national flag as per the tradition. The Centre, however said, that large crowds will not be allowed to gather and the entire event would be webcast for people across the country. “It is imperative to follow certain preventive measures such as maintaining social distancing, wearing of masks, proper sanitization and protecting vulnerable people,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in its guidelines.

An unidentified Archaeological Survey of India official told the The Indian Express that about 250 people will be present for the prime minister’s address, as opposed to the usual 1,000 or so invitees. The official said that the final list of the invitees will be prepared by the Ministry of Defence. The “at home” reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan will also take place.

The Centre directed the state governments to follow similar safety guidelines for the celebration.

The government said that frontline health workers must be invited to and honoured at the events for their efforts to combat the health crisis.

The Delhi Police said that children will not be asked to participate in the celebrations at the Red Fort. “This year, children will not take part due to the pandemic, except for NCC [National Cadet Corps] cadets,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Monika Bhardwaj told The Indian Express.

The number of coronavirus cases in India has gone up to 12,87,945 and the toll is now 30,601. India is the world’s third-worst coronavirus-hit country.

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