Puri Jagannath Temple will remain closed for devotees on weekends
The Puri Shree Jagannath Temple in Odisha will remain closed for devotees on weekends in view of the surge in Covid-19 cases. On Saturday and Sunday, the temple will be disinfected.
The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on Friday said the devotee restrictions will come into effect from April 24.
“Mostly people come on weekends to the temple. In order to avoid unnecessary crowding, we have decided to shut down the temple for two days (in a week). If the situation persists, the Rath Yatra will be held this year without the participation of devotees like the previous year. The festival will be held in a restricted way where servitors who test negative for Covid will be allowed to participate in the Rath Yatra,” said a senior SJTA official.
All devotees visiting the Jagannath temple from outside the state will be required to bring a Covid-19 negative certificate. The test (RT-PCR) must be done 96 hours prior to their visit to the temple or they will have to produce a report confirming they have already received the second dose of Covid vaccine.
“All devotees will be required to bring a photo ID card like Aadhaar card or voter card or any other similar document for identification,” an official said.
According to the standard operating procedures issued by the SJTA, lighting of diyas (earthen lamps) inside the temple by the devotees will not be permitted at all.
“Devotees are requested not to touch the statue or idols inside the temple,” the SOP stated.
It has also been decided that 300 servitors who are currently attending the Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand will have to undergo Covid-19 test on their return.
“Before entering the shrine, they will have to take the RT-PCR test. Everyone irrespective of whether they are devotees, servitors or the police entering the temple, will have to wear masks. We will impose a fine on those who fail to do so. It will be strictly implemented. We will also educate people on maintaining social distance,” said an official.
Thousands of devotees have tested positive for Covid-19 at the Kumbh Mela.
Odisha on Friday reported 3,108 Covid-19 cases — the highest daily count so far this year.
In view of the rise of in cases, the higher education department on Friday announced the suspension of both theory and practical examinations for college students. The revised schedule will be communicated later to the students after consulting the vice-chancellors. All the hostellers have been asked to vacate their respective hostels by Monday.
The state government is worried about the influx of people from neighbouring Chhattisgarh where total cases have crossed the one-lakh mark. Besides a night curfew, adjoining Nuapada district on Friday clamped Section 144 of the CrPC in Khariar Notified Area Council (NAC) to prohibit unnecessary movement of people across the inter-state border. Earlier, the state government had announced a ban on religious congregations and political rallies.
The Odisha government on Friday said that it received another three lakh doses of Covishield. The vaccines reached here on a special flight from the Serum Institute of India, Pune. So far 48,10,780 people in the state have been vaccinated, according to officials.