New Delhi: Places of worship, malls and restaurants are re-opening in most states today as part of what it called "Unlock1", more than two months after they were closed to check the spread of the coronavirus. The government had on Thursday announced new rules for allowing shopping malls, restaurants, hotels and places of worship to open gradually following the nationwide lockdown. The guidelines, which come into effect from today, include measures like staggering visitors to malls and no touching of idols at religious places.
The most prominent spot to open up again in Uttar Pradesh' Ayodhya is the temporary temple of Lord Ram inside the Ram Janmabhoomi or Lord Ram's birthplace. In March, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had presided over a ceremony to move the idol of Lord Ram from a tin structure where it was kept for decades to a new fiber one. Yogi Adityanath offered prayers at Gorakhnath Temple in Gorakhpur this morning.
However, in Mathura - the western Uttar Pradesh town also famous for its landmark temples - many of the prominent places of worship remain closed over concerns over the pandemic. The Eidgah mosque in Lucknow opened with the Shahi Imam leading the morning prayers in a group of five.
The richest and most visited temple in the world, the hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara in Andhra Pradesh's Tirumala, reopened today. Unlike earlier when 80,000 to a lakh people visited the Tirumala Tirupati temple every day, only 5,000 to a maximum of 10,000 people are expected to be allowed today as part of the trial opening, following all social distancing norms.
In Telangana too, religious places, malls and restaurants are set to re-open today with several SOPs, including s devotees having to wash hands and feet with soap and water before entering.
Several temples and gurdwaras reopened in Delhi this morning. At Bangla Sahib Gurdwara, devotees started coming in in the morning. There are placards at every few meters with messages on social distancing. Other introductions include thermal scanners and foot pedal-based sanitiser dispensers Many churches in Delhi, however, have decided to not to reopen just yet. "Malls, restaurants and religious places will be opening from tomorrow (Monday) in Delhi in accordance with the centre's guidelines," Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday.
At Delhi's Jama Masjid, all prayer mats have been removed and safety markings made six feet apart. All prayer mats have been removed and safety markings made six feet apart. The 'hauz' (pool for cleaning hands and feet before prayer) has been closed. All prayer mats have been removed and safety markings made six feet apart. People have been asked to bring to their own mats. Every alternate row would be left empty and worshippers would have to wear face masks at all times.
Religious places, hotels and restaurants will not be allowed to open today in Maharashtra which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in India. Private offices will be given permission to resume from today with 10 per cent staff. The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) have resumed operations from today to carry passengers to their workplaces. However, pnly 30 people can sit and five can stand in a single bus. Only one passenger will be allowed per seat.
In Tamil Nadu too, the state with the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in India, religious places continue to remain closed. Restaurants in the state reopened today after two months. The state government has issued strict SOPs including no air conditioners, 50 per cent occupancy, disinfection of chairs and tables after every use, sanitisers on every table and thermal scanning. There are around 50,000 restaurants across the state, with around 20,000 in Chennai alone.
"Rajasthan enters the next phase of easing of restrictions in lockdown norms from today with the opening of hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and some other activities. All have to follow health protocol and guidelines.Masks and social distancing is a must," Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot tweeted.
The Home Ministry had last month said "Unlock1" will roll out across the country from today under which the nationwide lockdown which came into effect from March 25 will be relaxed to a great extent, including opening of shopping malls, restaurants and religious places, though strict restrictions will remain in place till June 30 in the worst-hit areas.