As places of worship are set to open across the state from July 1, barring Greater Chennai Police limits and containment areas, Tamil Nadu government has issued a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to be followed within premises.
The SOP advises persons above 65 years of age, those with comorbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 to stay at home. All places of worship should provide facilities for hand hygiene and if possible thermal screening at the entrance. In addition to wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing norms, installation and use of the Arogya Setu app has been recommended. Festivals and mass gatherings to be avoided until normalcy returns.
Touching of idols, statues, holy books, etc. will be prohibited. Group performances, choir, etc and use of common prayer mats will not be allowed. No distribution of prasadam, holy water, etc will be allowed but annadanam (in packets), community kitchens, langar, etc, can function by following physical distancing norms. So can the shops, stalls and cafeteria within or outside the premises.
Installation of CCTV cameras, frequent and regular disinfection of premises to be conducted. Air conditioning will be allowed with predefined temperature and humidity settings. The places of worship have also been advised to set up a COVID-19 Safety Committee. Marriages can be held inside places of worship provided guests do not exceed 50.
Earlier this week, the Tamil Nadu government had announced that small temples in rural areas with an annual income of less than Rs. 10,000, small mosques, dargahs, churches and other religious places can open their doors for public worship beginning July 1.
From July 6, ll village panchayats in Poovirundhavalli, Eenadu and Sholavaram blocks in Thiruvallur district, all village panchayat of Kattankulathur Block in Chengalpattu district and ll village Panchayats of Madurai East, Madurai West and Thiruparankundram Blocks in Madurai district were to follow suit. While all religious places in containment zones shall strictly remain closed, those in corporation, municipality and town panchayat regions and big places of worship in village panchayat limits too will remain closed.