In view of the rising COVID-19 cases in the state, Endowments department commissioner Hari Jawaharlal has issued orders to all executive officers (EOs) and regional joint commissioners (RJCs) to strictly implement COVID-19 protocols in all temples in Andhra Pradesh.
It may be noted that four employees of a Vijayawada temple tested positive for COVID-19 recently. All major temples, including Annavaram, Srisailam and Srikalahasti, and Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada and Simhachalam will have to follow COVID-19 protocols.
All temples are instructed to follow standard operating procedures, including thermal screening at entry points, providing hand sanitizers, wearing masks, and maintaining a physical distance of six feet. Temples have also been asked to take steps to make masks available at a fixed price. The number of devotees visiting per hour has been scaled down to 1,000. All seva tickets are to be scaled down to 50% and COVID measures are to be implemented at seva halls.
The Endowments commissioner asked temples to encourage online sevas by giving it wide publicity through aptemples.ap.gov.in. Paroksha Seva, E-Hundi, E- Donation should be publicized and more boards depicting the said sevas should be installed, he added. No antaralaya darshan will be permitted in any temple. All temples are instructed to avoid giving free prasadam and annaprasadam in the dining halls. Keeping in view the safety of employees, the distribution of food packets is also banned. Prasadam sales can be continued but on a lower scale.
Temples have been asked to display boards on COVID-19 precautions at all prominent places besides making regular announcements. The temple premises and frequently used places should be sanitized with 1% sodium hypo chloride thrice a day. At the Kesakhandanasalas, barbers are asked to give hand gloves, Dettol, and face shields.
Any outside processions are strictly banned. The processions are to be conducted within the temple compound (Prakaram) and on a lesser scale. Bathing at temple pushkarini and nearby river points and all common bathing points should be closed until further orders, the commissioner directed.