Malls, restaurants, places of worship to open in Kerala from June 9

Deccan Chronicle.  | Smitha N

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Virtual queue at Sabarimala, 50 devotees to be allowed darshan at a time

File photo of Sabarimala, which will reopen to pilgrims on June 9. (DC Photo)

Kochi: As part of the easing of lockdown restrictions, the Kerala government has allowed reopening of shopping malls, restaurants and places of worship from June 9.

However, there will be tight restrictions. Aged people (65 and above) and children (below 10 years) and pregnant women will not be allowed to enter places of worship, and only 100 persons will be allowed in at a time, regardless of the size of the place of worship.

Only 15 devotees will be allowed in 100 square metre area within the shrine. The age restriction is applicable to priests as well.

Some of the other restrictions stipulated by the government at places of worship include, a ban on distribution of prasadam (food and other offerings) to devotees, not giving sandalwood paste and ashes from a common plate, not using water from common water tank for cleaning hands and face, no physical contact with devotees, avoiding touching of idols and holy books, use of face masks and hand sanitizer, keeping visitors’ register at the entry point and strictly banning persons with symptoms from entering the shrines.

There are curbs on singing religious songs while a recorded version of it can be used.

The Sabarimala pilgrimage too will be resumed with stringent curbs. A virtual queue system will be introduced and only 50 devotees will be allowed for darshan at one time. While briefing on the restrictions, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that thermal scanner will be installed at Sannidhanam, Nilakkal and Pampa.

Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier held a videoconference with religious leaders to finalise the plan for reopening of shrines.

Though shopping malls outside containment zones will be opened on June 9, play areas and cinema screens will not be allowed to function. Restaurants also have to comply with guidelines issued by the government such as limiting the number of customers, encouraging prior booking and online cash transaction.