Boimela sees weekend crowd

Precautionary measures against coronavirus in place
In prior years, half of the weekends were reserved as Children’s Hour. Though this was cancelled this year due to health concerns, the Boimela still saw a number of little ones yesterday. Photo: Prabir Das

Although a little late, the Amar Ekushey book fair is taking place again after a year. The delay was obvious -- like everything else, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the Boimela too.

Bangla Academy sources said despite their initial dilemma, they eventually decided to host the fair following requests from publishers, who have been facing losses ever since the pandemic hit.

But the impact of Covid-19 was visible at the fair yesterday, on the second day.

At the entrance, law enforcers were seen reminding everyone to wear masks. Sanitisers are installed at the gates as precautionary measures, while temperature is also being checked at the gate. Announcers are shouting pandemic health guidelines in frequent intervals, while stalls bear "no mask, no service" signs.

On the second day, which was also a Friday, it was mostly young people flocking to the fair. They said this was a great opportunity for them since it has been a while they last got to visit a public event.

"We had no way to go anywhere during the pandemic. This book fair gave us a destination. We're really glad to be here today," said Raisa Islam, who came to the fair from Santimagar with her university friends.

Asked if they are concerned about their health, she said, "We honestly are. We are wearing masks and brought sanitiser with us."

As usual, couples were there to roam out in the open and enjoy the festivity of the fair too.

Tarikul Islam, who came to the fair with his better half Nasreen Jahan, said, "We are just browsing today, but you never know, you always come across something interesting at the book fair."

This year the academy didn't allow Children's Hour, one of the major attractions at the fair, to take place keeping in mind the risk for children. However, children along with their parents -- wearing masks -- visited the fair and were seen browsing through books.

Meanwhile, Tanzila Ridi from Reza publication said, "We only sold a few books till the evening." To her wish, as the sun started to set in, the crowd also started increasing, this correspondent saw.

"Around 3pm in the afternoon, people were less in number. Now at 5pm, its brimming with people. I guess we need to go out now or else physical distance cannot be maintained," said Faruk Ahmed, leaving the fair with his wife Tarin Akter.

The fair wasn't hosted without hiccups. At the gates, sanitiser bottles ran out and volunteers were seen rushing to fill those up.

Abdullah Towhid, a volunteer at the gate near Bangla Academy, said, "The whole day, there was nearly no crowd but now they are here. Maintaining a big crowd is tough indeed. But we have enough sanitisers in stock, nothing to worry."

This year, 834 units have been allocated to 540 publishing houses and organisations to facilitate sale of books and other publications.The authorities have allotted 154 units on the Bangla Academy premises to 107 organisations and 680 units at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 433 organisations.

The area of this year's fair is 15 lakh square feet and there will be 33 pavilions in the fair including the academy's three pavilions.


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