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Meghalaya�s places of worship to reopen on June 14

By Staff correspondent

SHILLONG, June 5 - The Meghalaya Government today decided to allow places of worship to hold regular services from June 14. However, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will have to be followed while holding these religious services.

The decision to reopen the places of worship was taken in a meeting with religious leaders from across the State capital at the Secretariat here, which was chaired by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.

After the meeting, the Chief Minister said: �A meeting with various religious leaders was held today� Places of worship will reopen from June 14 with due adherence to safety protocols laid down by the Government.�

All religious places have remained closed for more than two months due to the novel coronavirus-induced lockdown. Several places of worship have been holding their services on Facebook Live and through other social media during this period to reach out to the faithful.

Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said a draft SOP would be circulated to the religious leaders, that has to be followed in their respective religious organisation.

�A draft SOP is in place and it will be circulated to all religious organisations with some changes,� Tynsong said. The State SOP is loosely based on the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Health, released a few days ago for religious organisations.

The Central Health Ministry guidelines advise people of 65 years of age and above, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years to stay at home. Also, individuals must maintain a minimum distance of six feet. Entrances should have mandatory provisions for hand hygiene (sanitizers) and thermal screening.

Only asymptomatic persons will be allowed into the premises. All persons seeking entry should use face covers or masks. Touching of statues, idols, holy books, etc., will not be allowed. No physical offerings like prasad, distribution or sprinkling of holy water, etc., will be allowed inside the religious place.

Tynsong said most of the draft guidelines were agreed to, by the religious leaders and others. He said some of the SOP clauses would be worked on and by Saturday, the modified clauses would be sent to the religious leaders.

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