Places of worship reopen in Maharashtra with strict Covid-19 protocols in place
Religious sites in Maharashtra reopened on Monday after nearly eight months of closure due to the blockade imposed in an attempt to control the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
The announcement to reopen religious sites in Maharashtra was made by the Chief Minister’s Office (OCM) on Saturday.
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Prominent religious sites in the state include the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi, the Mahim Dargah and Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai, and the Dagdusheth Halwai temple in Pune.
The doors of the places of worship were opened after midnight for administration officials to clean and disinfect the facilities before they reopened for devotees to offer morning prayers.
“People have been waiting for more than eight months. Government standard operating procedures and internal dargah standard operating procedures will be followed. We have created dashboards with the government and Dargah SOPs. Only those with masks will be allowed to enter the facility and their temperature will be recorded prior to entering, ”said Mahim Dargah Trustee Suhail Y Khandwani.
“I feel fortunate to have visited the temple in the new year, after Diwali. I’m very happy. All the Covid-19 precautionary measures are being taken here, ”a devotee who visited the Siddhivinayak temple told the ANI news agency.
According to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) established by the Maharashtra government, religious sites located in the containment zones have not been allowed to be opened. Only asymptomatic people will be allowed to enter the places of worship, who must enter in a staggered manner.
The use of a mask is mandatory and visitors must strictly follow the rules of social distancing. The state government has also asked the administration of these places to conduct a thermal scan and provide visitors with hand-washing facilities or disinfectants.
Touching statues, holy books, and idols is prohibited according to the guidelines. Also, only recorded devotional music will be played. Choirs or singing groups are not allowed.
These standard operating procedures have also empowered local authorities to add instructions to control the spread of the infection. Consequently, the administration of the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi said that it will only allow visitors to enter the premises after an online reservation for a specific time.
“We have made arrangements to control the crowd in the temple. People will be assigned time slots online to visit. Only 6,000 people will be allowed into the temple in one day. The temple will only remain open for 14 hours, “added a temple representative.
Religious sites in Maharashtra have been closed since March this year, when the central government imposed a complete lockdown to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.