The Ministry of Culture has approved opening of 820 centrally protected monuments under the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) which have places of worship from today. The Union Minister of Culture has said that all the protocols issued by the Home Ministry and Health Ministry will be followed in these monuments.
In its order, Culture Ministry has said that ASI will ensure that preventive measures as stipulated in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to contain the spread of COVID-19 in religious places are effectively put in place and scrupulously followed while opening and managing these monuments.
The Ministry of Culture also asked the ASI to share the list of these 820 monuments to the concerned States so that any state or district specific orders with regard to containment and prevention of spread of COVID-19 are also comprehensively implemented. There are 3,691 Centrally-protected monuments and archaeological sites maintained by the ASI which were shut from 17th of March in view of COVID-19.
Religious places, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels and offices which remained shut due to COVID-19 lockdown, are set to reopen from today. However, such establishments will be allowed to open in only non- containment zones. They will have to follow all the guidelines issued by the Central Government in this regard so that social distancing could be ensured.
As per the guidelines related to religious places, only asymptomatic persons will be allowed and no physical offerings like prasad and distribution or sprinkling of holy water is permitted. Touching statues, idols, and holy books in places of worship will be strictly prohibited and use of face masks will be mandatory. The individuals have been asked to maintain a distance of six feet. Community kitchens, langars and Ann-Daan at religious places should follow physical distancing norms while preparing and distributing food.
Meanwhile, Delhi state borders will be opened from today. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that only residents of the National Capital will be treated in state’s hospitals till the time COVID pandemic lasts. He also informed that barring hotels and banquet halls in the city, malls, restaurants and places of worship will open from today.
Mr Kejriwal said, the state government received over 7 lakh suggestions from the residents regarding the issue of treatment of patients in Delhi hospitals.
He informed that the state cabinet has taken the decision after considering the suggestions both from the residents and the expert panel which was constituted by the government. He said, the expert panel under the chairmanship of Dr. Mahesh Verma, Vice Chancellor of Indraprastha University, has stated in their report that Delhi will need around 15 thousand additional hospital beds by the end of this month, to take care of COVID patients.
Under the new set up, private hospitals and Delhi government hospitals in the city will be reserved only for the residents of Delhi. However, Central Government hospitals and hospitals providing special treatment or surgery will remain open for everyone.
Mr. Kejriwal, citing higher risk for senior citizens and those with co-morbidities has urged them to stay at home and take special precaution in light of the prevailing situation.