The notification came up days after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee listed the safety guidelines for the puja committees.

Kolkata Police on Friday asked Durga Puja organisers in the city to rigorously follow all COVID-19 regulations and ensure that revellers mandatorily wear masks while entering the marquees during the five-day festival which will begin on October 23.

Also read: Doctors, fearing ‘tsunami’ of COVID-19 cases after Durga Puja, caution Mamata

City Commissioner of Police Anuj Sharma also said that puja committees should ensure that revellers adhere to the physical distancing norms inside pandals and are given masks by puja committees if they do not have them.

He asked organisers to mark spaces for revellers near the pandals in keeping with the physical distancing norms and make separate entry and exit points in them.

“Please don’t compromise on COVID safety guidelines already stipulated by the government. Keep the pandal free on all three sides and make sure everyone wears masks. Keep a stock of masks to distribute among the pandal hoppers if they are not found wearing them,” Mr. Sharma said.

Mr. Sharma said that people can visit puja pandals a whole week more this time to avoid overcrowding anywhere. They can start visiting the pandals four days before the puja begins till October 29, three days after the Vijaya Dashami day.

Also read: Coronavirus | Kolkata caught between festivities and fear of COVID-19

The immersion processions, which traditionally see large gatherings every year, should not take circuitous routes to the Ganga or the nearest water body from the pandal and instead have the minimum number of people accompanying them for the purpose, he said.

Cultural programmes which draw huge crowds cannot be held in or near the puja pandals.

“We are working on all the guidelines given by the government. We offered all cooperation to the CP today,” said Somen Dutta, an office-bearer of the Forum for Durgotsab and the general secretary of Kashi Bose Lane Puja Committee, which organises one of the most popular pujas in the city.

The state government had earlier issued a notification asking Durga Puja committees to follow COVID-19 safety protocols and set up open pandals where visitors cannot enter without masks.

The notification came up days after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee listed the safety guidelines for the puja committees.

Around 2,509 community Durga Pujas are organised under the jurisdiction of Kolkata Police, Ms. Banerjee had said.

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