J&K: All religious places, including Vaishno Devi Temple, to reopen from Aug 16


J&K: All religious places, including Vaishno Devi Temple, to reopen from Aug 16

In a major decision, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has announced to reopen all religious places of worship across the Union Territory on August 16, a day after the Independence Day celebrations. Vaishno Devi temple, in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir, will also be opening on the said date.

The yatra was suspended by the UT administration on May 18 as the Coronavirus pandemic began to spread across the country as well as the rest of the world.

Earlier, the Centre had given its nod to reopen religious places from June 8, which was later put on hold after the spike in COVID-19 cases and death toll.

Referring to this, the Principal Secretary and Government Spokesperson posted on his Twitter and stated, “Major decision by J-K Government. All religious places and places of worship to open in Jammu & Kashmir from August 16, 2020. Religious processions and large religious gatherings remain strictly prohibited.”

A senior official from the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board said that since the government has decided to now open all religious places, they will be strictly adhering to the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) before re-opening the shrine to devotees. As regarding the SOP, the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board added that it will soon be announcing its own SOP, so that the yatra is conducted with all the necessary precautions in place.

The official also added that sanitisation drives were being conducted on sanctum sanctorum, twin tracks, and at Katra town. He also emphasised that circles have been marked outside the Yatra Parchi counter, at the Bhawan and the two helipads at Katra and Sanji Chhat to ensure social distancing. Reportedly, local pilgrims will be initially allowed to visit the cave shrine.

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