Several states and Union territories, including Maharashtra, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, have imposed restrictions on public gatherings on Holi as well other festivals in the coming month amid a massive increase in cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Even as the country registered over 68,000 fresh cases on Sunday, the highest single-day spike this year, people across states continued to violate Covid-19 norms and carried out celebrations on the eve of Holi. Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan were among the states where large-scale violation was reported. In poll-bound West Bengal and Assam as well, candidates from various parties were seen celebrating the festival with voters.

Experts and health authorities have warned that if people fail to adhere to Covid-19 protocols, the festivals of Holi and Shab-e-Baraat might turn into superspreader events.

In Uttar Pradesh, the government has ordered that people arriving for Holi celebrations from other states witnessing Covid-19 surge need to undergo tests, which will be conducted at railway stations, airports and bus depots. Citizens willing to hold public programmes need to take prior approval for it. In Madhya Pradesh, authorities have imposed a complete ban on celebrations at public places across 11 districts, including state capital Bhopal, and ordered the closure of shops and religious places. “The lockdown will be started from 9pm on Saturday and continue till 6am on Monday. But there will be a ban on unnecessary gathering and movement of people on Monday,” said Bhopal collector Avinash Lavaniya.

Delhi is also likely to witness a low-key festival season this year as the Delhi Disaster Management Authority announced earlier this week that there will be no public celebration of Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Navaratri in parks, religious places, public grounds, markets. Holi celebrations have also been banned in the neighbouring state of Haryana.

In Maharashtra, with the sudden upsurge of coronavirus cases, the civil and district authorities have announced a ban on Holi celebrations in both private and public places

In the union territory of Chandigarh too, the administration has ordered the cancellation of all Holi-related festivities and banned all clubs and restaurants from organizing any celebrations. Gujarat and Odisha have also banned public gatherings and asked people to celebrate Holi traditionally with limited rituals.

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