Ahead of Holi and the upcoming Panchayat elections, the Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday ordered testing of people coming from other states seeing a spurt in coronavirus cases. UP Chief Secretary R K Tiwari issued the directive a day after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held a high-level meeting on the COVID-19 situation in the state which on Monday had reported the coronavirus cases again crossing the 500-mark.
The fresh directive, while emphasising for strict implementation of anti-COVID measures, also stipulated that no procession or public programmes would be allowed without prior administrative permission. The directive issued to all district and division-level officers said the COVID-19 testing of all those coming to Uttar Pradesh during the Holi festival from the states reporting high numbers of cases will be necessary. It mandated coronavirus tests for passengers at railway stations, bus stations and airports besides reactivating helpdesks, running dedicated COVID hospitals in all districts and keeping other hospitals ready for any future needs.
The directive also emphasised identifying the suspected cases with the help of thermometers and oximeters. It also laid the responsibility of implementing precautionary measures, like maintaining social distancing and wearing of masks by people participating in these programmes, on their organisers. The directive also stipulated that organisers will not allow people above 60 or below 10 years of age or those having serious ailments to participate in such events. The government also declared Holi holidays in all schools up to class VIII from March 24 to 31. In other educational institutions, barring medical and nursing colleges, Holi holidays will start on March 25, lasting up to March 31. These directives on holidays, however, will not be valid for institutions holding various examinations. Chief Secretary Tiwari also directed the state administration to ensure that there is no crowding at public places and asked police to take all necessary measures for it.
In a statement issued here later, Lucknow District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash said that in view of the COVID-19 situation, rain dance parties, open dance programmes and other parties are banned till further orders. The permission given earlier for all such type of parties stand cancelled with immediate effect, he said.
Till further orders, permission has to be taken from the district administration for processions and public functions, the statement said.