The government is organising the 74th Independence Day to be held on August 15 at Red Fort, and is pulling out all stops to ensure that adequate social distancing and hygiene is maintained in the view of COVID-19 pandemic. The Defence Ministry is trying to strike a balance between the sanctity of the flag hoisting ceremony at Red Fort while taking into account the necessary safeguards related to the coronavirus scenario.
In order to ensure seamless movement with least chances of any crowding at the venue, seating paddocks and walkways are laid with wooden flooring and carpeting.
The ministry has put up additional door frame metal detectors, with sufficiently spaced markings to avoid lineups. This is to ensure smooth passage for all the invitees. Majority of parking areas have been brick-lined and paved to ensure seamless entry and exit of vehicles.
Here are some of the special arrangements made by the Defence Ministry at Red Fort:
- Members of the Guard of Honour have been put under quarantine to ensure safety.
- The seating arrangement has been done keeping in mind "Do Gaz Ki Doori" (a distance of two yards, or six feet) between any two guests seated during the event.
- Participation in the event is strictly through invitation. Around 4,000 plus invites have been issued to officials, media, diplomats and members of the public.
- In order to ensure safety, NCC Cadets have been invited, instead of young school children. The cadets will be seated at Gyanpath.
- The invitees have been issued a special advisory for following the COVID-19 related guidelines to ensure safety.
- A request card will be placed on each seat mentioning restraint and patience the invitees are expected to demonstrate during dispersion after the function concludes.
- An announcement regarding this will be made from the commentary booth from time to time. Traffic Police advisory will also contain a note on the matter.
- The ministry has put in place an orderly dispersal plan which will be implemented through controlling officials assigned to several enclosures.
- Ceremonial drills will also factor in due social distancing guidelines as well as other preventive measures.
- Adequate medical booths are being put up at four locations: one each near the rampart, at Madhavdas Park, and two at 15 August Park if any attendee manifests any symptoms related to COVID-19 during entry. Ambulances will also be stationed at these four locations.
- The ministry has planned thermal screening to be conducted at all entry points for the invitees.
- Thorough sanitisation of the premises inside and outside the Red Fort is being conducted regularly.
- All attendees have been requested to wear masks. The ministry has also arranged adequate number of masks kept handy for distribution at several points of the venue.
- Hand-sanitisers are being made available at pre-defined locations. Display boards are being positioned discreetly to attract the attention of invitees.