Devotees visiting Sabarimala temple to produce COVID-negative certificate

Thiruvananthapuram: The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) on Sunday said the devotees visiting Lord Ayyappa hill shrine in Sabarimala will have to produce COVID-negative certificate.

The chief of the board, N Vasu, said the devotees must carry a coronavirus-negative certificate after conducting an RT-PCR test 48 hours prior to their visit to the hill shrine.

The devotees will have to show the certificate in view of Makaravilakku festival season from December 31 to January 19, 2021.

Vasu said that the government has given Rs 50 crore for the Sabarimala pilgrimage. Earlier, devotees were only required to show a negative certificate after a rapid antigen test to visit the shrine.

The Kerala High Court has allowed 5,000 pilgrims to visit the temple from Sunday.

Earlier, 1,000 pilgrims were allowed to visit the temple on weekdays and 2,000 on weekends. The number was later increased to 2,000 and 3,000, respectively.

The hill shrine opened to devotees in October after being closed for over six months due to the coronavirus pandemic.