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Unlock 1.0: Religious Places, Malls, Restaurants re-open today: Know what's allowed and what's not!

Touching of idols, holy books or sprinkling of holy water not to be allowed at places of worship.

Jun 8, 2020 10:52 IST
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All religious places of worship re-opened on June 8, 2020 as a part of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Under phase II of Unlock 1, the Home Ministry has allowed reopening of religious places, shopping malls, restaurants and hotels with certain precautionary measures. The move comes as coronavirus cases continue to spike in the nation.

All religious places including Vaishno Devi, Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple),Saint Mary’s Church in Bengaluru, Sai Baba Mandir in Delhi, Shree Dodda Ganapathi Temple, Jama Masjid, Gorakhnath Temple, Chamunda Temple, Jhandewalan Temple, Gauri Shankar Temple and Sri Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi have re-opened. 

The Government has allowed re-opening of all religious places of worship located outside containment zones with precautionary measures including strict compliance to social distancing protocol and compulsory wearing of masks. The devotees also have to undergo thermal screening before entering the premises of the places of worship. Under the Ministry guidelines, devotees cannot touch the idols, holy books 

The Government had issued Standard Operating Procedures earlier for religious places, shopping malls, restaurant and hotels to minimize all physical contact and ensuring social distancing at these places. The Health Ministry's guidelines outlined specific along with certain generic preventive measures that have to be adopted by all public places including places of worship, workplaces, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection. 

Following are the generic preventive measures:

•  People above 65 years of age, children below 10 years, pregnant women and people with co-morbidities have been advised to stay at home.

•  People must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet in public places.

•  Wearing of face covers/masks mandatory.

•  Frequent hand washing with soap for a minimum of 40-60 seconds advised even when hands are not visibly dirty. Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers for a minimum of 20 seconds advised. 

•  Strict adherence to respiratory etiquette including covering of mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief or flexed elbow and disposing off the used tissues properly.

•  Self-monitoring of health and earliest reporting of any illness to state and district helpline.

•  Spitting to be strictly prohibited.

•  Download and use of Aarogya Setu App.

SOPs for Religious Places

•  Entrance to have mandatory hand sanitizer dispenser and thermal screening provisions. Only those who are asymptomatic to be allowed inside the premises.

•  People to be allowed entry only if they are wearing face cover/masks.

•  Posters/standees on COVID-19 preventive measures to be displayed prominently and audio and video clips also to be played regularly to spread awareness.

•  Staggered entry of visitors to be done, if possible. Footwear to be preferably taken off inside one's own vehicle and proper crowd management in the parking lots and outside the premises, following social distancing norms.

•  All shops, stalls, cafeteria outside and within the premises to follow social distancing norms at all times. Specific markings can be made to manage the queue and ensure social distancing in the premises.

•  Preferably separate entry and exits can be organised for visitors. There should be at least a minimum physical distance 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 arrangement to also ensure that adequate social distancing is maintained.

•  The guidelines of CPWD shall be followed for air-conditioning and ventilation, which emphasises that the temperature setting of all AC devices should be in the range of 24-30 Degree Celsius, while relative humidity should be around 40.

•  There should be 70 percent intake of fresh air and cross ventilation should be adequate.

•  Touching of idols and holy books not to be allowed. Large gatherings to remain prohibited.

•  While devotional music/songs can be played, choir or singing groups should not be
allowed.

•  All physical contact while greeting each other also to be avoided. Common prayer mats to be avoided, devotees should bring their own prayer mat or piece of cloth.

•  No physical offerings like prasad or sprinkling of holy water to be allowed.

SOPs for shopping malls:

•  Entrance to have mandatory hand sanitizer dispenser and thermal screening provisions. 

•   Only asymptomatic visitors shall be allowed. All workers, visitors to be allowed entry only if they are wearing masks. 

•  Adequate manpower to be deployed by Mall Management to ensure social distancing.

•  All employees in higher risk categories to take extra precautions.  They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public. Work from home to facilitated wherever feasible.

•  Valet parking shall be operational with operating staff wearing face covers/ masks and gloves as appropriate. Proper disinfection of steering, door handles, keys of the vehicles should be taken up.

•  Separate entry and exits to be organised for visitors, workers and goods/supplies.

•  The home delivery staff shall be screened thermally by the shopping mall authorities prior to allowing home deliveries.

•  Required precautions to be taken while handling supplies, inventories and goods in the shopping
mall. Proper queue management and disinfection shall be organized.

•  Number of customers inside the shop to be kept at a minimum to maintain the physical distancing norms.

•  Seating arrangement, if any, to be made a way that adequate social distancing is maintained.

•  Number of people in the elevators to be restricted. Use of escalators with one person on alternate steps may be encouraged.

•  The guidelines of CPWD shall be followed for air-conditioning and ventilation, which emphasises that the temperature setting of all AC devices should be in the range of 24-30 Degree Celsius, while relative humidity should be around 40.

•  Effective and frequent sanitation within the premises with particular focus on lavatories, drinking and hand washing stations/areas.

•  Regular cleaning and disinfection using 1% sodium hypochlorite of frequently touched surfaces such as elevator buttons, door knobs, hand rails, benches and washroom fixtures to be made mandatory in all malls.

•  Contactless mode of ordering and digital mode of payment using e-wallets to be encouraged.

What will remain closed?

-Gaming Arcades

-Children Play Areas.

-Cinema halls inside shopping malls.

SOPs for Restaurants

•  Takeaways to be encouraged, instead of Dine-In. Contactless delivery to be encouraged. Food Delivery person should leave the packet at customer’s door and not handover the food packet directly to the customer.

•  All home delivery staff to be screened thermally by the restaurant authorities prior to allowing home deliveries.

•  All restaurant entrances to have mandatory hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser) and thermal
screening provisions. Only asymptomatic staff and patrons using face masks/ covers to be allowed entry. The face mask has to be worn at all times inside the restaurant. 

•  Staggering of patrons to be done. Adequate manpower to be deployed for ensuring
social distancing norms.

•  All employees falling under higher risk categories to take extra precautions and should not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public. Work from home to be facilitated wherever feasible.

•  Proper crowd management in parking lots, additional patrons to be seated in a designated waiting area with social distancing norms. 

•  Valet parking shall be operational with operating staff wearing face covers/ masks and gloves as appropriate. Proper disinfection of steering, door handles, keys of the vehicles should be taken up.

•  Specific markings can be made to manage the queue and ensure social distancing in the premises. Different entry and exits for patrons to be encouraged. 

•  Seating arrangement to be done in a way that adequate social distancing is maintained. Not more than 50% of seating capacity to be permitted in restaurants. 

•  Disposable menus are advised to be used. Good quality disposable paper napkins to be provided instead of cloth napkins. 

•  Buffet service to also follow social distancing norms. Number of people in the elevators also to be restricted to ensure social distancing. Use of escalators with one person on alternate steps may be encouraged.

•  The guidelines of CPWD shall be followed for air-conditioning and ventilation, which emphasises that the temperature setting of all AC devices should be in the range of 24-30 Degree Celsius, while relative humidity should be around 40.

•  Regular cleaning and disinfection using 1% sodium hypochlorite of frequently touched surfaces such as elevator buttons, door knobs, hand rails, benches and washroom fixtures to be made mandatory in all malls.

•  Effective and frequent sanitation within the premises with particular focus on lavatories, drinking and hand washing stations/areas.

•  All staff and waiters should wear mask and hand gloves and take other required precautionary measures.

•  All tables to be sanitized each time customer leaves. Social distancing norms to be followed in kitchens as well. 

Background

Under Unlock 1, the government had permitted the opening of religious places, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls from June 8, 2020. Only those located outside the containment zones will be allowed to open, while those located within the containment zones will remain closed.  

The religious places, hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, workplaces and other hospitality services have been advised to open with proper arrangement of sanitizer dispenser and thermal screening at the entrance.

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