India on Monday tentatively stepped out of a 75-day lockdown with malls, religious places and offices opening in several parts of the country under strict conditions limiting the number of people and mandating sanitisation of all premises.
Heralding a new era of shopping, working and worshipping in fearful pandemic times, the extensive dos and don’ts framework included sanitisation tunnels, temperature checks, entry on the basis of tokens, no prasad’ and no trying out clothes either.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was among several devotees who arrived to offer prayers at Gorakhnath Temple. At the Golden Temple, volunteers could be seen sanitising the area at regular intervals. An ISKCON temple in Ahmedabad resorted to token system to allow devotees inside. Meanwhile, the toll rose to 7,200 with 271 more deaths and the number of infections reached 2,56,611 in the country.
A look at the top developments:
* The Golden Temple restarted its ‘langar’ and distributed ‘prasad’ among devotees as it reopened on Monday, defying the Punjab government’s lockdown guidelines. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh too appeared to defend the practice, saying his government had ‘never believed in interfering with the customs and practices of any religion’.
The CM in a statement said the decision was taken by the Union government, of which the SAD was an integral part. He said the state government was constrained by the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and accused the Shiromani Akali Dal of ‘misleading’ people.
* Assam: Places of worship, shopping malls and restaurants reopened to the public on Monday after remaining closed for around two-and-half months since the lockdown began on March 25 to contain the spread of COVID-19. Temples, mosques and gurudwaras, as well as shopping centres and eateries allowed entry to people while ensuring that social distancing norms are followed in accordance with the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines, according to the authorities concerned.
However, the flow of devotees to shrines and customers to malls and restaurants was thin on the first day of their reopening as people are still apprehensive about catching the infection, they said.
* Delhi: Worshippers trickled in on Monday at religious places which reopened after over two and half months of the coronavirus lockdown, with a slew of precautionary measures in place. It was especially an emotional moment for those who had to give up their regular visits due to the lockdown restrictions, while many said they prayed for respite from the pandemic that has upended the lives of every community.
The religious places were closed in Delhi on March 23 to check the spread of coronavirus. At the Hanuman Mandir in Connaught Place, the footfall was low. Pankaj Sharma, the temple mahant, said the number of devotees has dropped by 90 per cent. The famous Chhatarpur temple complex opened around 8.45 am with nearly 300 people visiting it in the first few hours, the temple authorities said.
* Meghalaya: Taxis and private vehicles plied on Shillong roads on an odd-even basis and face mask-clad people visited shops in a major marketplace in the Meghalaya capital as the first phase of the ‘Unlock-1’ began on Monday.
On the other hand, the night curfew imposed across the state has been extended till June 15, under which only shops engaged in essential services will be permitted to remain open from 9 pm till 5 am, officials said.
Churches and other places of worship have been permitted to reopen from June 14 on the condition that social distancing, hand hygiene and sanitisation of the premises will be maintained, they said.
* Shopping malls in Delhi-NCR and other major cities have started to open from Monday after a gap of more than two months due to COVID-19 pandemic, but footfalls were low as people fear to get infected by the virus.
India’s largest realty firm DLF and Pacific group have not yet opened their malls for public, but Ambience group and Unity group have resumed operations at malls in the national capital.
In the national capital region, Gurugram, Faridabad and Ghaziabad administrations have not given permission so far for opening the shopping malls. “We will open our malls in Delhi this week. We are taking all necessary steps and following all guidelines issued by the central and state governments to ensure full safety of visitors,” Pushpa Bector, Executive Director, DLF Shopping Malls, said.
Ambience group Chairman Raj Singh Gehlot told PTI that the company has opened its two shopping malls at Vasant Kunj and Rohini in Delhi.
* Mamata Banerjee in a cabinet meeting on Monday said since public transport is back on roads, number of infections is increasing. “There are high chances of further spike in cases. Hence, please be careful and follow guidelines.” She also added a number of relaxation to the existing lockdown rules such as increasing the number of people allowed in religious gatherings and marriage functions from 10 to 25.
* Unlock 1.0: Temples in Bengaluru open with safety measures in place
- Temples to stay open for lesser hours, continuous sanitisation when closed
- Devotees not allowed to bring coconut, flower or fruit for any pooja
- No prasada/theertha
- Wearing mask, thermal screening compulsory, and more
* Shopping malls, restaurants and other establishments reopened in West Bengal on Monday after a gap of over two months with the state government allowing further relaxations as part of “Unlock-1”, the first phase of a calibrated exit from the coronavirus-induced lockdown across the country.
* Despite Centre’s nod, J&K, 4 states to keep ASI monuments with places of worship shut. In view of the prevailing Covid-19 situation, ASI monuments having places of worship will remain shut in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Jammu and Kashmir despite nod from the central government to reopen them from Monday, officials said. In an order issued on Sunday, the Union Culture Ministry approved reopening of 820 Archeological Survey of India (ASI) protected monuments which have places of worship from June 8, but allowed local authorities in the states to take the final call depending on the situation on the ground.
* Restaurants take several measures in Bengaluru as dine-in resumes after nearly 3 months.
-Staff, customer registers to be maintained
-QR code-based menus
-Tables spread out to keep distance between each other
-Sanitised dining kits, and more.
— Ralph Alex Arakal (@ralpharakal) June 8, 2020
* Dlf Mall of India in Noida looks deserted as the mall didn’t open Monday. “Only big bazaar is open inside the mall and the sanitisation/fumigation is taking place. Staff members are inside and there is no certainty as to when will the mall open says Deepak Solania, security in charge. Even TGIP mall and Garden Galleria in Noida remained closed and sanitisation process is being carried out inside, said the guards on duty.
* As the national capital reopened its borders for inter-state movement after a week, the Delhi-Noida Direct Flyway this morning witnessed massive traffic snarls. Several videos circulated on social media showed long queues of vehicles crawling at snail’s pace.
— ANI (@ANI) June 8, 2020
* The Mumbai Traffic Police also faced a similar situation as private offices opened with partial strength. As part of its ‘Mission Begin Again’, the state government has allowed private offices to operate with up to 10 per cent of their strength with the rest of working from home. Severe congestion was seen along the Western Expressway Highway as employees returned to their work places.
— ANI (@ANI) June 8, 2020
* Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was among several devotees who arrived to offer prayers at Gorakhnath Temple in Gorakhpur as the government allowed the reopening of religious places.
* At the Golden Temple, volunteers could be seen sanitising the area at regular intervals. SPGC president Gobind Singh Longowal has urged the Punjab Government to review its guidelines regarding the distribution of langar, on grounds that it was an “inseparable tradition of the Sikh religion”.
* At a local temple in Amritsar, a priest told news agency ANI that all guidelines were being followed as per the Centre’s orders. While a team of doctors were seated outside the premises, patients underwent thermal screening before entering the premises. No sweets will be distributed, they said.
* An ISKCON temple in Ahmedabad resorted to token system to allow devotees inside. “Of the four gates, only two of them have been opened to devotees. Only 25 people are allowed inside. If the tokens are over, then the others can accordingly wait for their turn,” a priest told news agency ANI.
* In Delhi, the Shrine of Velankanni in Khan Market was also opened with marks of social distancing for devotees on the floor.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines