Stepping out for festivities? Stay safe with these pointers

Avoid large gatherings and follow all precautionary measures, if you plan to step out this festive season

With the onset of the festive season with Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali and Bhai Dooj, many people have made plans to catch up with their friends and family. However, it is important to note that the pandemic is still not over and one needs to adhere to social distancing norms and follow hygiene protocols to stay safe, stress experts. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also made an earnest appeal to citizens to follow precautionary measures in a televised address on October 20, 2020. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan also requested people to stay away from large congregations in a tweet.

“No religion or God says that you have to celebrate in an ostentatious way, there is no need to congregate in large numbers to prove your faith,” he tweeted.

However, if you still do plan to go out, here’s what you need to know to reduce your risk of any disease, including coronavirus.

Insisting on the importance of following health protocols, Dr Shiba Kalyan Biswal, consultant, pulmonary and sleep medicine, Narayana Hospital, Gurugram said, “there is no room for relaxation”. “Crowded places should be avoided; festivals should be celebrated with all precautions. Meet people in open areas and maintain required distancing; wearing a mask is a must once you step out of the house. Even if you get stuck in a crowd by chance, make sure you are wearing a mask and avoiding face-to-face contact. Wash your clothes with detergent after coming back home and also take a bath. Consult a doctor without delay if you notice any symptoms,” she told

*With social distancing being the norm, the Home Ministry urged organisers to maintain spatial boundaries and prepare a detailed site plan that complies with thermal screening, six-feet physical distancing and sanitisation.

*In processions and rallies, crowds should not exceed the permitted number. Wearing masks and maintaining social distance is a must.

*Exhibitions, fairs, puja pandals, Ramlila pandals or concerts and plays that last for many days should ensure a cap on physical numbers, staggered timings and restricted entry.

*As far as possible, recorded devotional music/songs may be played and choir/singing groups shouldn’t be allowed in religious places.

*For air-conditioning/ventilation, the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30°C.

*Disinfection of the premises to be taken up if a person is found positive.

*Arrangements for safe drinking water, if required, should be made (preferably with provision for disposable cups) in the event premises.

*All events must plan for medical care arrangements with linkages to the nearest hospitals to attend to health emergencies.

ALSO READ | Follow these COVID-safety guidelines from the health ministry

Experts suggest that those with respiratory complaints or a “weakened immune system” must refrain from venturing out at any cost. “This year, it is not normal. So, adhere to the ‘new normal’. We can’t become complacent and should not let our guard down till the time a vaccine is available. With winters, pollution and smog coming up combined with the festival season, we should be more cautious,” said Dr Richa Sareen, consultant, pulmonology and critical care medicine, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj.

The Union Health Ministry also reiterated the point and mentioned, “Persons above the age of 65 years, persons with comorbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home and avoid visiting large gatherings.”

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If you still think you have to step out for some time, follow strict precautions:

*Six feet or two metres social distancing is compulsory

*Sanitise your hands repeatedly (for at least 20 seconds)

*Go out with only your social bubble

*Use of face covers/masks is mandatory at all times

*Spitting is strictly prohibited

*Installation and use of Aarogya Setu App

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