In Unlock1, Religious Places, Restaurants Open With Caution: 10 Points

Unlock1: 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.

Places of worship, malls and restaurants are reopening in many parts of the country.

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.

Here are the top 10 updates on this big story:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. The richest and most visited temple in the world, the hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara in Andhra Pradesh's Tirumala, reopened today. Only people from Tirumala and Tirupati, and the temple trust employees will be allowed inside the temple for darshan for the first two to three days. The temple will be opened for the public from June 11. People above 65 and children under 10 will not be allowed to enter the temple for now. Unlike earlier when 80,000 to a lakh people visited the Tirumala Tirupati temple every day, the number of people allowed to make online bookings for today was limited to 6,873 as part of the trial opening. The temple trust has written to the centre, asking them to allow theertham (holy water) to be given to devotees. "It is a matter of sentiment... So we have appealed to the central government to allow theertham," Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams chairperson YV Subba Reddy said.

  4. 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. 

  5. Several temples and gurdwaras reopened in Delhi this morning. At Bangla Sahib Gurdwara, devotees started coming 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.

  6. At Delhi's Jama Masjid, all prayer mats have been removed and safety markings made six feet apart. People have been asked to bring their own mats. Every alternate row would be left empty and worshippers would have to wear face masks at all times. The 'hauz' (pool for cleaning hands and feet before prayer) has been closed.

  7. 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, only 30 people can sit and five can stand in a single bus. Only one passenger will be allowed per seat.

  8. 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.

  9. In Karnataka, places of worship opened to the public, with restrictions in place and new protocols like the use of sanitisers. Karnataka had asked permission to open places of worship from June 1 but waited for a week after the centre came out with its guidelines. With restaurants open for dining in, people were also seen slowly venturing out to eat out.

  10. 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.