The 45th edition of the Chennai Book Fair, earlier postponed from 6 January after the state of Tamil Nadu saw an unprecedented rise in fresh Covid-19 infections, will now be held from 16 February – 6 March 2022. Indian Printer & Publisher had reported on 4 January that the book fair had been postponed as a result of fresh curbs imposed by the Government of Tamil Nadu postponing all exhibitions, and cultural events in the state with immediate effect.
After the recent decline in new Covid-19 cases and the increasing number of recoveries, the Tamil Nadu government has permitted the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI) to hold the 2022 Chennai Book Fair starting in the second half of February. BAPASI chief secretary V Irai Anbu recently gave a presentation to the authorities to organize the book exhibition while observing all necessary Covid-19 precautions and adhering to pandemic norms and guidelines, similar to the 2021 edition of the event. The permission to arrange the book fair has been given following this plea. BAPASI has also accepted a reduction in the number of stands from 1,000 to 800 in order to maintain appropriate social distancing during the exhibition. Around 80% of the fair framework is already in place, according to sources.
Restrictions on participation of senior citizens
The annual book fair, held at the YMCA Grounds in Nandanam, attracts booksellers, publishers, literary enthusiasts, book lovers, literary agents, students, children, and the general public from Tamil Nadu and neighboring states. The 18-day 2022 edition of the book fair is planned with a safety limit on the number of people allowed to attend each day. According to the new guidelines issued by the authorities to conduct the event, infants, newborns, senior citizens aged 65 and above, pregnant women and people with co-morbidities such as hypertension and heart disease have been discouraged from attending the exhibition.
The new guidelines suggest no-touch entry with online ticketing, mandatory mask use, and sanitizer dispersion at all entry and exit points, washrooms and individual publisher stands. Separate entry and exit paths to maintain social distancing are also being considered. In addition, only three visitors will be allowed at a time in any stand for a maximum duration of 15 minutes to make their literary purchases.
Air conditioning has been prohibited in all exhibition areas while workers, organizational staff, and publishers will be made to wear gloves during the exhibition timings, from 10 am in the morning to 7 pm. Moreover, Covid-19 safety measures and precautions must be pasted at relevant areas in the premises, and regular announcements to observe Covid-19 rules and guidelines must be made on the loudspeakers during the event.
The postponement of the Chennai Book Fair 2022 had discouraged publishers, booksellers, and literary agents who were looking to recover the damage incurred due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, the sharp decline in Covid-19 cases in the city has once again lifted spirits after the fresh dates were announced.