Srimandir To Remain Shut On Weekends; SJTA Issues Fresh SOP To Keep COVID At Bay

Puri: With the sudden rise in COVID-19 positive cases across the State, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on Friday issued a revised Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Srimandir which will come to effect from April 24.

As per the fresh guidelines, the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri will remain open on all days of the week except Saturdays and Sundays. Earlier, Srimandir remained close for public only on Sundays.

The decision came following a virtual meeting of the Chhatisa Nijog held today in presence of SJTA Chief Administrator Krishan Kumar, Puri Collector Samarth Verma, SP Kanwar Vishal Singh, and representatives of servitors.

As per reports, the temple will remain closed for two days- on Saturdays and Sundays, which will come into effect from next Saturday. Besides, no one will be allowed inside the shrine without mask and fines will be collected from violators.

In order to avoid gathering inside the sanctum sanctorum of Srimandir, devotees will be allowed to have darshan of the Trinity Lords from Bahar Katha in the temple premises.

Besides, arrangements will be made for opening kiosks for conducting COVID-19 tests of pilgrims and mandatory production of COVID-19 negative report for entry to the 12th-Century shrine.

On the other hand, it has been made mandatory for devotees coming from outside Odisha to produce RT-PCR negative report or final vaccination certificate (after two doses of vaccination) for entry into Srimandir. However, restrictions on people from Puri have not been taken yet.

Moreover, the servitors who have visited Kumbha Mela in Haridwar will have to undergo COVID-19 test. The Chhatisa Nijog is also consulting stakeholders and representative of various organisations on closing the temple for devotees, if situation arises.

A seven-member committee will be formed to ensure people adhere to COVID appropriate behavior inside the temple premises, it was decided in the meeting.

As many as 10 members of the servitor families, five Srimandir employees and 10 staff of the Shree Jagannath Temple shoe stand were found infected with COVID-19 so far.