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All religious places in Maharashtra will reopen from tomorrow as the state government announced another phase of reopening from October 7, also the first day of Navratri. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, however, warned people to strictly follow Covid-19 norms despite the relaxations, to prevent the spread of the disease.
1) Maharashtra SOPs for Religious Places
• People will still need to wear face masks and use hand sanitizers. The management of religious places will be responsible for implementation of such measures, Thackeray said.
• No 'prasad' (offerings) will be distributed, no sprinkling of holy water, no touching of statues, idols or holy books and staggering the number of visitors to maintain social distancing is to be carried out, the government has said.
• Face mask or covering of the face is mandatory while visiting religious places, it said, adding the minimum distance between two persons should be 6 feet. The state government advised senior citizens, pregnant women and children below 10 years of age to remain at home.
• The management of shrines should provide separate entry and exit points for devotees, if possible, to avoid crowding, said the order. People should avoid physical contact while greeting each other, it said.
2) Siddhivinayak, Shirdi: Famous Temples to Reopen
• The Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple Trust announced that Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak temple will reopen to pilgrims tomorrow. Adesh Bandekar, President of the Trust said that all devotees will be admitted inside the temple only through pre-booking QR codes on Shree Siddhivinayak Temple Trust app, adding that only 250 devotees will be handed QR codes for darshan every hour.
• He added that Devotees will be required to engage in COVID-appropriate behaviour such as social distancing, mask wearing, and so on. Devotees will be permitted into the temple only after the temperature has been checked using a thermal scanner, he said.
• Bandekar said the app’s registration for devotees will commence on October 6 at 12 PM. Following that, every Thursday, the app will take registration for the following week.
• The Shirdi Sai Baba temple will also reopen from tomorrow. The holy site will allow visitors' entry with adherence to all the Covid-19 safety protocols. To prevent the spread of Covid-19, Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust has activated an online booking window so that the visitors can book the slot for Sai Darshan without standing in a long queue.
3.) What is Already Open in Maharashtra
• The Maharashtra government has provided relaxations from Covid-19 lockdown in a phased manner. The state government had earlier allowed local trains to reopen for frontline and essential service workers, and for those citizens who are fully vaccinated, i.e., have received both doses of Covid vaccine and have completed 14 days after the second shot from August 15.
• Restaurants are allowed to open with 50 percent capacity with Covid guidelines in place. All employees, working, must be fully vaccinated. All restaurants can operate all day till 10 pm, however, parcel services are allowed 24 hours a day.
• All essential and non-essential shops can operate till 10 pm on all days. All employees should be fully vaccinated. Gyms, yoga centres, salons, spas, beauty parlours can operate at 50 percent capacity till 10 am on all days. All employees must be fully vaccinated.
• Offices are allowed to operate at 25% of total employee strength, as private offices with staggering work hours can operate for 24 hours a day.
• Marriages are allowed with 100 people maximum at closed premises like Hotels/Marriage halls and 200 maximum at open-air premises.
• All indoor sports, like badminton, table tennis, Squash, parallel bar, Mallkhamb, are allowed with only two sportspersons allowed per sports subject. Everyone, including sportspersons, staff should be fully vaccinated.
• Maharashtra announced the reopening of schools for classes 5 to 12 in rural areas and 8 to 12 in urban areas starting October 4.
4.) What Will Open from Oct 22
The state government had earlier announced that theatres, multiplexes will open in Maharashtra from 22 October.
5.) Ahmednagar Faces Curbs
• Owing to high cases, strict lockdown-like restrictions were imposed from Monday till October 13 in 61 villages having more than 10 COVID-19 cases in Ahmednagar district.
• These villages are in Akole, Karjat, Kopargaon, Newasa, Parner, Pathardi, Rahata, Sangamner, Shevgaon, Shrigonda, and Srirampur tehsils, Ahmednagar Collector Rajendra Bhosale said.
• "The district is witnessing 500-800 cases daily and positivity rate is over 5 percent. Therefore, directions were issued to implement precautionary measures in villages having more than 10 active cases. Since protocols were not being followed fully, we have imposed strict restrictions in 61 villages in 11 tehsils,” he said in an order.
• As per the order, all shops, barring essential ones like medical stores, clinics, and diagnostics labs, will remain shut from October 4 to October 13, while the assembly of more than 5 people has been prohibited in these villages as well as curbs placed on entry and exit. "Emergency services, transportation of agriculture produce, other essential services have been excluded from this. Grocery shops are allowed to function between 8 am and 11 am. All religious places and schools will be shut during the period,” the order further said.