This year’s Republic Day parade in India will be different from any other, becoming the first to be held during a pandemic. With strict social distancing protocols, the parade will feature fewer cultural performances as well as spectators. The parade itself will be of shorter duration and have smaller marching contingents. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will grace the occasion as the chief guest. India has seen a substantial decrease in the daily coronavirus cases and deaths lately but the new strains found in the UK have caused a global panic.

Several other precautions are underway to ensure safety during the R-Day celebrations in view of the coronavirus situation in the country.

“The parade will begin from Vijay Chowk, as usual, but will culminate at the National Stadium instead of ending at the Red Fort. So, it will cover a distance of 3.3 km as compared to the normal 8.2 km,” as per an official. Only around 25,000 spectators will be allowed to witness the parade as compared to the average of 1.3 lakh people every year. “Children below 15 years and the elderly with co-morbidities will not be permitted,” said the official to TOI on Sunday.

The “overall traditional character” of the parade, which showcases the country’s military might and cultural diversity, “will, however, be maintained” despite the restrictions necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic, officials added on Sunday. 

A contingent of the Bangladesh armed forces will also take part in the parade in view of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the 1971 war of liberation.