When religious places were allowed to open in June, the govt had issued an SOP for preventive measures that must be followed.
Coronavirus in India: The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday shared precautionary measures to be taken for visiting religious places amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The religious places were allowed to open back in June. In its advisory shared on Twitter, the ministry stated that physical distancing is the key to prevent the spread of the virus. It added that everyone should maintain ‘2 gaz ki doori’ or a distance of six feet from each other. Moreover, it stated that shoes and footwear must be left inside the vehicles, or people should ensure that their footwear is in a separate slot from others.
When the religious places were allowed to open in June, the ministry had issued an SOP for preventive measures that must be followed. Religious places in India witness a large influx of people due to strong religious sentiments, which could be more during the pandemic. Therefore, certain measures needed to be put in place.
The government had only allowed those religious places to be open for the public which were located outside containment zones. Apart from that, it was advised that people above the age of 65 years, children below 10 years, pregnant women as well as individuals having comorbidities should remain inside. This was to be enforced by the organisations that were managing these religious places.
Apart from that, other measures that the workers and the visitors were instructed to follow were:
- It was stated that individuals must wear face covers or masks and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from each other.
- The SOP advised frequent hand washing with soap for at least 40 to 60 seconds, regardless of whether the hands are dirty or not. Sanitizers can also be used for at least 20 seconds.
- It advised individuals to mandatorily cover their noses and mouths with their elbows, tissues or handkerchiefs while sneezing and coughing. Used tissues must be disposed of properly.
- Using the Aarogya Setu app was advised.
- Sanitizer dispensers and provisions for thermal screening were made mandatory at the entrance of religious places.
- It was stated that only asymptomatic people wearing masks or face covers would be allowed to enter the premises.
- It was also made mandatory to display posters or standees on the preventive measures for COVID-19. Apart from that, religious places were directed to regularly play audio and video messages on these measures as well.
- Religious places were directed to stagger visitors if possible.
- Shops, stalls, cafeterias, etc, in and around the religious places were also required to follow the preventive measures.
- For managing queues, the SOP suggested putting in place specific marks that followed physical distancing norms.
- It was suggested that if possible, separate entry and exit points be arranged.
- Visitors were directed to wash their hands and feet with soap and water before entering the premises.
- Touching idols, statues and holy books was prohibited.
- Large gatherings and congregations also remained banned.