Complete SOPs for opening religious places in Nagaland 

Morung Express News
Dimapur | June 11 

With the High Powered Committee (HPC) on COVID-19 headed by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio giving the green signal for opening religious places on June 10, the Office of the Chief Secretary has issued an order stating the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be followed for such activities. 


The order said that religious places/places of worship would be allowed to open with immediate effect, subject to adherence to the certain conditions/provisions.


However, such places in Containment Zones shall remain closed. The containment zone, as per the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, refers to a specific geographical area where positive cases of coronavirus are found. 


Any violation of prescribed provisions will attract action as per legal provisions against the management of the religious place and individuals/devotees violating the same, the order said. 


If trustee or management decides to not to open the religious place to public for worship as a matter of abundant precaution, for prevention of the spread of COVID-19, they are allowed to do so, it added.  


The organisations managing the religious institutions are also advised to adopt general measures like advising person above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant woman and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home. 
Individuals must also maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet in public places as far as feasible and use of face covers/masks to be mandatory in all places. 


Practice of frequent hand washing wills soap (for at least 40-60 seconds) and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (for at least 20 seconds) can be made wherever feasible, the order said. 


Spitting should be strictly prohibited and respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed and this involves strict practice of covering one's mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly, it added.


It also called for self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest to state and district helpline and installation as well as use of Aarogya Sets App is also advised. 


Complete Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Opening of Religious Institutions:

I.    The number of persons to be allowed in any religious place/place of worship at any point of time should not be more than 30% of the capacity of that building/place. 

II.    The religious places shall be kept open for worship between 5:00 am to 5:00 pm only.

III.    Entrance to have mandatory hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser) and thermal screening provisions. 

IV.    Only asymptomatic persons shall be allowed in the premises. All persons to be allowed entry only if using face cover/masks. 
V.    Posters/standees on preventive measures about COVID-19 to be displayed prominently. Audio and Video clips to spread awareness on preventive measures for COVID-19 should be regularly played.

VI.    Staggering of visitors to be done, if possible. 

VII.    vii. Shoes / footwear to be preferably taken off inside own vehicle. If needed they should be kept in separate slots for each individual / family by the persons themselves. 

VIII.    Proper crowd management in the parking lots and outside the premises — duly following social distancing norms shall be organized. 

IX.    Any shops, stalls, cafeteria etc., outside and within the premises shall follow social distancing norms at all times.

X.    Specific markings may be made with sufficient distance to manage the queue and ensure social distancing in the premises. 

XI.    Preferably separate entry and exits for visitors shall be organized. 

XII.    Maintain physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet at all times when queuing up for entry.

XIII.    People should wash their hand and feet with soap and water before entering the premises. 

XIV.    Seating arrangement to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained.

XV.    For air-conditioning/ventilation, the guidelines of CPWD, Government of India shall be followed which inter alia emphasizes that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degree Centigrade, relative humidity should be in the range of 40- 70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate.

XVI.    Touching of statues/ idols / holy books etc. not to be allowed. Large gatherings/congregation continue to remain prohibited. 

XVII.    In view of potential threat of spread of infection, as far as feasible recorded devotional music/songs may be played and choir or singing groups should not be allowed.

XVIII.    Avoid physical contact while greeting each other. 

XIX.    Common prayer mats should be avoided and devotees should bring their own prayer mat or piece of cloth which they may take back with them. 

XX.    No physical offerings like Prasad/distribution or sprinkling of holy water, etc. to be allowed inside the religious place. 

XXI.    Community kitchens/langars / "Ann-daan", etc. at religious places should follow physical distancing norms while preparing and distributing food.

XXII.    Effective sanitation within the premises shall be maintained with particular focus on lavatories, hand and foot-washing stations/areas. 

XXIII.    Frequent cleaning and disinfection to be maintained by the management of the religious place.

XXIV.    The floors should particularly be cleaned multiple times in the premises.

XXV.    Proper disposal of face covers / masks / gloves left over by visitors and/or employees should be ensured. 


In case of a suspect or confirmed case in a religious premises

a.    Place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others. 

b.    Provide a mask/face cover till such time he/she is examined by a doctor.

c.    Immediately inform the nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) or call the State or District helpline. 

d.    A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district RRT/treating physician) and accordingly further action be initiated regarding management of case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection.

e.    Disinfection of the premises to be taken up if the person is found positive.