Kolkata: Durga puja pandals will be no-entry zones for visitors, the Calcutta High Court said Monday – just three days ahead of Bengal’s biggest festival. Only organisers will be allowed inside the pandals, the court said, limiting the number to 25 for big pandals and 15 for the smaller ones in view of the coronavirus outbreak.  

The court said all pandals will have to erect barricades at their entrance — the distance is five meters for small pandals and double that for the big ones.  

Underscoring the need for compliance in view of public health, the High Court said there are not enough policemen in Kolkata to man crowds at the city’s 3000-plus pandals.  

Last month, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced plans to “put coronavirus in lockdown and hold the puja this year”.

Without naming the opposition, she said: “We will surely organise the Durga puja this year. We have to avoid crowds at any cost because vultures are sitting out there to blame us if we don’t allow the puja or if any spike occurs after the puja. They have no responsibility”.