The centre has written to all states and union territories reinforcing the need to follow all Covid-19 health protocols

With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing, the Centre on Friday asked all states to avoid large gatherings and webcast the Independence Day events this year.

Asking that all health protocols be followed, the Ministry of Home Affairs has suggested that Covid-19 warriors as well as some of those who have recovered from the infection should be honoured during the celebrations.

In an advisory sent to all states and union territories on Monday, the ministry also said that it would be appropriate that the theme of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is spread among all on the social media during the Independence Day celebrations.

The ministry reiterated that all preventive measures should be followed.

“It is imperative to follow certain preventive measures such as maintaining social distancing, wearing of masks, proper sanitization, avoiding large congregations, protecting vulnerable persons, etc.; and follow all guidelines related to Covid-19 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health a Family Welfare,” a letter from the ministry to states and union territories said.

This year, the ceremony at Red Fort will be limited to the presentation of a Guard of Honour by the Armed Forces and the Delhi Police to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, unfurling of the national flag accompanied by playing of the national anthem and firing of 21-gun salute.

The speech by the Prime Minister will be followed by the release of tricoloured balloons.

“It would be appropriate that Covid-19 warriors like doctors, health workers, sanitation workers, etc., are invited in the ceremony as a recognition of their noble service in fight against Covid-19 Pandemic”, said the ministry.

“It must be ensured that National Flag is hoisted at all State Capitals/Districts/ Block/Panchayat levels”, the advisory said.

Other functions of the day may include activities like planting of trees; inter-school/inter-college debates on digital platforms; online quiz contests/patriotic essay writing and poetry competitions; launching of any important scheme, singing patriotic songs/delivering patriotic talks by selected boys/girls on the social media; illumination of Government Buildings/State Bhawans, etc; thematic webinars; online campaign by NSS and NYKS centred around patriotic themes; or any other activity deemed appropriate by the State Government/Union Territory Administration befitting the occasion.

The MHA advisory is intended to reduce the crowds for the August 15 celebrations.