State govt. issues SOP for those visiting places of worship

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The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be followed in religious places and places of worship across the State, following the easing of certain restrictions on entry into such premises.

However, the SOP noted, “Places of worship/religious places in Corporations, Municipalities, town panchayats and big places of worship/religious places in village panchayat limits would remain closed for public worship.”

The SOP, issued by the Revenue Secretary, specified the norms to be followed in places of worship for Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and other religious groups.

Only small temples in rural areas (with an annual income of less than ₹10,000), and small mosques, dargahs, churches and other religious places across the State, except those in the Chennai Police Commissionerate areas and containment zones, would be allowed to reopen for public worship from July 1.

Religious places in certain parts of Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu and Madurai districts would be allowed to function from July 6.

“Persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 are advised to stay at home. Organisations managing the religious institutions to advise accordingly,” the SOP said.

Individuals are to maintain a minimum distance of six feet from each other in public places at all times, even when queueing up for entry.

“Use of face covers/masks to be mandatory. All persons to be allowed entry only if using face cover/masks,” the guidelines said.

Only asymptomatic persons would be allowed entry into the premises.

“People should wash their hands and feet with soap and water before entering the premises. Necessary facilities shall be provided for this purpose,” the SOP said. Touching of statues, idols or holy books, among others, will not be allowed.

CCTVs should be installed to the extent possible, and each religious place/place of worship has been advised to form a COVID-19 Safety Committee to implement and monitor guidelines issued by the government.

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