The central government on Thursday released guidelines to manage the spread of coronavirus in religious places and shrines set to reopen from June 8 after the almost two-month lockdown period. Religious places and places of worship for public in containment zones will remain closed and only those outside will be allowed to open.
Those above 65 years of age, persons with comorbidities, pregnant woman and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home and not visit shrines and organisations managing the religious institutions will advise accordingly.
The generic preventive measures include simple public health measures to be followed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and need to be observed by all workers and visitors at all times. These include:
1. Individuals must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet in public places as far as feasible.
2. Use of face covers/masks to be mandatory.
3. Practice frequent hand washing with soap (for at least 40-60 seconds) even when hands are not visibly dirty. Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (for at least 20 seconds) can be made wherever feasible.
4. Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly.
5. Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest to state and district helpline.
6. Spitting should be strictly prohibited.
7. Installation and use of Aarogya Setu App shall be advised to all.
Among other measures that religious places must ensure are:
1. Entrance to have mandatory hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser) and thermal screening provisions.
2. Only asymptomatic persons shall be allowed in the premises.
3. All persons to be allowed entry only if using face cover/masks.
4. Posters/standees on preventive measures about COVID-19 to be displayed prominently. Audio and Video clips to spread awareness on preventive measures for COVID-19 should be regularly played.
5. Staggering of visitors to be done, if possible.
6. Shoes / footwear to be preferably taken off inside own vehicle. If needed they should be kept in separate slots for each individual / family by the persons themselves.
7. Proper crowd management in the parking lots and outside the premises – duly following social distancing norms shall be organized.
8. Any shops, stalls, cafeteria etc., outside and within the premises shall follow social distancing norms at all times
9. Specific markings may be made with sufficient distant to manage the queue and ensure social distancing in the premises.
10. Preferably separate entry and exits for visitors shall be organized
11. Maintain physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet at all times when queuing up for entry.
12. People should wash their hand and feet with soap and water before entering the premises.
13. Seating arrangement to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained.
14. For air-conditioning/ventilation, the guidelines of CPWD shall be followed which inter alia emphasises that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30oC, relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate.
15. Touching of statues/idols / holy books etc. not to be allowed.
16. Large gatherings/congregation continue to remain prohibited.
17. In view of potential threat of spread of infection, as far as feasible recorded devotional music/songs may be played and choir or singing groups should not be allowed.
18. Avoid physical contact while greeting each other.
19. Common prayer mats should be avoided and devotees should bring their own prayer mat or piece of cloth which they may take back with them.
20. No physical offerings like Prasad/distribution or sprinkling of holy water, etc.to be allowed inside the religious place.
21. Community kitchens/langars / “Ann-daan”, etc. at religious placesshould follow physical distancing norms while preparing and distributing food.
22. Effective sanitation within the premises shall be maintained with particular focus on lavatories, hand and foot-washing stations/areas.
23. Frequent cleaning and disinfection to be maintained by the management of the religious place.
24. The floors should particularly be cleaned multiple times in the premises.
25. Proper disposal of face covers / masks / gloves left over by visitors and/or employees should be ensured.
In case a case is confirmed on premises:
1. Place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others.
2. Provide a mask/face cover till such time he/she is examined by a doctor.
3. Immediately inform the nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) or call the state or district helpline.
4. A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district RRT/treating physician) and accordingly further action be initiated regarding management of case, his/her contacts and need for
5. Disinfection of the premises to be taken up if the person is found positive.