In a most important discussion, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has declared 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 starting on the said date.
The yatra was halted by the UT administration on May 18 as the Coronavirus pandemic set out to spread across the country as well as the rest of the world.
Previously, the Centre had given its nod to revive religious places from June 8, which was later on put on hold after the spike in COVID-19 cases and death toll.
Mentioning 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 high-ranking official from the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board said that since the government has chosen to now open all religious places, they will be firmly sticking to the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) before re-opening the temples. As considering the SOP, the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board added that it will soon be declaring its own SOP, so that the yatra is handled with all the necessary precautions in place.
The official also added that cleansing drives were being performed on sanctum sanctorum, twin tracks, and at Katra town. He also stressed that circles have been marked outside the Yatra Parchi counter, at the Bhawan and the two helipads at Katra and Sanji Chhat to safeguard social distancing. Apparently, local pilgrims will be primarily allowed to visit the cave shrine.