SHILLONG, June 8 - Even as the Meghalaya government has permitted re-opening of places of worship in the State, it has issued guidelines restricting a number of activities so as to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
As per the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of the government on preventive measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 in religious places or places of worship, which was issued on Saturday.
�During holy communion in churches, priests or persons who administer the holy communion should sanitise their hands and wear gloves if feasible, before administering the holy communion and to further ensure that there is no physical contact with the communicants�.
The SoP also restricted places of worship from permitting entry of anyone without a facemask. They also put up posters on preventive measures against Covid-19 in both English and the local language which will be provided by the Health and Family Welfare Department.
For the purpose of staggering, churches may organise multiple services on any given day, the duration of which should be restricted to the minimum and should not normally exceed one hour.
Shoes should also be taken off in the vehicle, and if needed, should be kept in separate slots for each individual by the individuals themselves. Alternatively, provision should be made to place a disinfecting tray at the entrance to sanitise the shoes.
Proper crowd management in the parking lots and outside the premises should also be made.
As far as the churches are concerned, the maximum number of persons allowed during each service should not exceed one-third of the seating capacity of the church.
Further, one row in between two pews should be left empty. Individuals should also maintain a minimum distance of five feet, which should also be followed in temples, mosques and gurdwaras and other places of worship.
While the SoP has permitted marriage rituals in places of worship, the number of guests should not exceed one-third the capacity of the place of worship and individuals must maintain a minimum distance of five feet.
Meanwhile, the SoP also restricted the touching of statues, idols and holy books. For churches, people may bring their hymn books and Bibles, though sharing of these were prohibited.
In view of the potential threat of the spread of infection, as far as feasible, recorded devotional songs or music may be played and choir or singing groups should not be allowed. In churches, even while singing hymns, masks should be worn at all times.