LIVE UPDATES: Calcutta High Court bans entry into Durga Puja pandals across West Bengal due to surge in COVID-19 cases

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The Calcutta High Court has declared all Durga Puja pandals across West Bengal no-entry zones for devotees primarily to prevent the surge of COVID-19 cases in the state. A division bench comprising Justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee said that only , while hearing a public interest litigation, said that 15 to 25 persons from the organising committees would be allowed to enter puja pandals.

Known as pandal hopping, visiting puja pandals during Durga Puja is an integral part of Bengali culture. However, West Bengal has witnessed a considerable surge in the COVID-19 cases with the state reporting more than 3.2 lakh positive cases and more than 6,000 deaths from the deadly virus so far.

A report by news agency PTI said that the organisers of smaller pandals will have to erect barricades five metres from the entrance, while for the bigger ones, the distance has to be 10 metres. The organisers will have to prominently display ‘no-entry’ boards on the barricades.

The high court directed the police to adequately publicise its order. The DIG and Commissioner of Police have been told to submit a compliance report after Lakshmi Puja by 5 November.

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