With spread of COVID-19 still looming large, the Odisha government on Tuesday enforced restrictions on large congregations during the observance of Maha Shivaratri on 11 March and warned penal action against the violators under Disaster Management act.
The State is passing through a critical situation due to the detection of a new variant of SARS-CoV 2 and it is necessary to strictly adhere to COVID- 19 safety protocol for containment of spread of the infection. Large congregations on the festival of ‘Mahasivaratri ‘ have potential for the spread of COVID-19 infections, the Special Relief Commissioner’s office wrote to the Collectors and municipal commissioners.
Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 24(1) of the Disaster Management Act,2005 read with Rule 8(1) of the Odisha Disaster Management Rules,2010, the Collectors and Municipal Commissioners are empowered to restrict congregations, gatherings to such number as may be felt appropriate in view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation considering local situations, circulation space availing within temples and its premises to enter strictly adhering to the Covid-19 safety protocols, it said.
Any person found violating this order shall be punishable under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and other relevant laws, it added. “Mela, congregations outside/within the temple premises may also be reasonably restricted so as to avoid mass gathering/crowding,” the SRC letter concluded.