FAQ: No Prasad, Holy Water – What New Rules for Religious Places?
Here’s all you need to know about the how places of worship will function during the pandemic.
The Health Ministry on Thursday, 4 June, issued the SOPs on preventive measures to be taken at places of worship to contain the spread of COVID-19. This comes days ahead of the re-opening of these places on 8 June, as specified by the Home Ministry in its guidelines for Unlock 1.0.
Here’s all you need to know about how places of worship will function and the precautions one must take during the pandemic.
Will all places of worship re-open starting 8 June?
- While the Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed the re-opening of places of worship, it is for the state governments to take a final call.
- Religious places and places of worship for the public in containment zones shall remain closed.
- Only those outside containment zones will be allowed to open up.
Who will be allowed to enter religious places?
- Persons above 65 years of age, persons with comorbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay home. Organisations managing the religious institutions to advise accordingly.
- Only asymptomatic people will be allowed to enter places of worship.
What precautions should be taken by devotees while visiting places of worship?
- All persons to be allowed entry only if using face covers/masks
- Footwear to be preferably taken off inside own vehicle.
- If needed they should be kept in separate slots for each individual/family by themselves
- Maintain physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet at all times when queuing up for entry.
- People should wash their hands and feet with soap and water before entering the premises.
- Seating arrangements to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained.
- Devotees are not allowed to touch statues, idols or holy books etc.
- Common prayer mats should be avoided and devotees should bring their own prayer mats or pieces of cloth, which they may take back with them.
Can places of worship continue to offer prasad?
No physical offerings like prasad distribution or sprinkling of holy water, etc to be allowed inside the religious place.
What precautions should be taken by religious places amid the pandemic?
- Devotees have to be provided with hand sanitizer and thermal screening provisions
- Staggering of visitors to be done, whenever possible.
- Any shops, stalls, cafeteria, etc, outside and within the premises shall follow social distancing norms at all times.
- Specific markings may be made with sufficient distance to manage the queue and ensure social distancing in the premises.
- Preferably separate entry and exits for visitors shall be organised.
- In view of the potential threat of the spread of infection, as far as feasible recorded devotional music/songs may be played and choir or singing groups should not be allowed.
- Community kitchens/langars /“Ann-daan”, etc at religious places should follow physical distancing norms while preparing and distributing food.
What happens if there is a suspected or confirmed case in the premises?
- Place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others.
- Provide a mask/face cover till the time he/she is examined by a doctor.
- Immediately inform the nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) or call the state or district helpline.
- A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district RRT/treating physician) and accordingly, further action will be initiated regarding the management of the case, his/her contacts, and the need for disinfection.
- Disinfection of the premises to be taken up if the person is found positive.
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