Bihar govt issues directive asking people not to congregate at public places during Holi festival

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Patna, Mar 27 (PTI) In view of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Bihar, the state government on Saturday issued an order asking people not to congregate at public places on the day of Holi festival.

The order issued by the Home department also said that 'minimum number' of people will be allowed to gather at one place during Holika Dahan, the ritual performed on the eve of the Holi festival and Shab-e-Barat.

The government order did not specify the minimum number of people allowed to gather.

It said that people should maintain COVID-19 protocol such as wearing face mask, maintaining social distancing, using hand sanitiser while participating during Holika Dahan and Shab-e-Barat.

All Divisional Commissioners, Range Inspector Generals, Deputy Inspector Generals, District Magistrates, Senior Superintendents and Superintendents of Police have been communicated for the enforcement of the decision which was taken at a crisis management group meeting.

People will not be permitted to gather at public places or organise any events and activities on the day of the Holi festival, it said, while directing the officials to ensure the compliance of the order which is jointly signed by Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Chaitanya Prasad and Director General of Police (DGP) S K Singhal.

Meanwhile, while extending his greetings to the people of the state on Holi and Shab-e-Barat, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar appealed to the people to celebrate the festival of Holi in their homes and worship inside their homes on Shab-e-Barat in view of coronavirus infection.

'With the help and cooperation of the people, we will be able to deal with the pandemic,' Kumar said in an official release.

The chief minister while participating at a Bihar Diwas function on March 22 had urged the people of the state to 'remain alert and cautious' and suggested to them to avoid congregating or celebrating Holi, the festival of colour, publicly or in large gatherings.

'People should remain indoor to the extent possible in view of increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases. They (people) should participate in limited numbers in any public functions or gatherings,' Kumar said on March 25 while directing officials to keep a special vigil on the situation given that Holika Dahan and Shab-e-Barat are on the same day.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Bihar has almost doubled in just four days.

As per the health department's bulletin issued on Friday evening, the number of COVID-19 active cases was 1,000 while 211 new cases were detected in the last 24 hours.

The state's recovery rate was 99.03 per cent, it said, adding that 2,61,839 people have recovered from the contagion.

In the bulletin issued on March 22, the number of active COVID-19 cases was 522 while 126 new cases were detected.

The state has so far tested 2.34 crore samples for COVID-19. PTI AR RG RG