The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday decided to allow a maximum of 5,000 pilgrims daily into the Vishno Devi shrine in Trikuta Hills near Katra from August 16 to September 30, days after it announced that places of worship across J&K would be re-opened to the public from August 16.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the order, issued by the secretary of the State Executive Committee of the Disaster Management, Relief Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Department, read: “There shall be a ceiling of maximum 5,000 pilgrims per day till September 30 this year.” It added that of the 5,000 pilgrims every day, a maximum of 500 pilgrims every day could be from outside the UT.
The order said that the entry of pilgrims will be staggered in a way to ensure that no more than 600 people would be gathered in the main bhawan area —including pilgrims, security personnel and other service providers.
It added that yatra routes would have to be optimised for maximum staggering and physical distancing, and added that there shall be sufficient physical distancing inside the caves.
Pilgrim registration must be done online only, the order said, adding that it will be mandatory to test pilgrims coming from outside the UT and those residing within red zones in J&K.
“Rapid Antigen Test facilities at multiple locations at the start of yatra route could also be set up to randomly test and identify any potential carrier of infection. Periodic COVID-19 antigen testing of the exposed/frontline staff of SMVDSB and other service providers in the surrounding area shall be carried out in order to keep a constant tab on the spread of COVID infection in Katra and its surrounding area,” it added.