Places of worship, malls reopen in Assam

Guwahati, Jun 8 (PTI) Places of worship, shopping malls and restaurants across Assam reopened to the public on Monday after remaining closed for around two-and-half months since the lockdown began on March 25 to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Temples, mosques and gurudwaras, as well as shopping centres and eateries allowed entry to people while ensuring that social distancing norms are followed in accordance with the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines, according to the authorities concerned.

However, the flow of devotees to shrines and customers to malls and restaurants was thin on the first day of their reopening as people are still apprehensive about catching the infection, they said.

Churches have been open to believers for the last two-and-half months to come alone to offer prayers, various church heads said.

Churches, however, decided to refrain from holding religious services till June 30 to check the spread of the disease, according to Archbishop of Guwahati, John Moolachera.

The vice-president of Bura (Jame) Masjid Committee in Guwahati, Jonab Giasuddin Ahmed, said mosques across the state opened on Monday allowing only 20 people at a time while adopting all preventive measures in compliance to the government guidelines.

Though most temples reopened, doors of the Ma Kamakhya Temple remained shut with its management committee deciding not to reopen the 17th-century shrine to the public till June 30 due to a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Assam.

The annual Ambubachi Mela, which saw a footfall of an estimated 20 lakh devotees from India and abroad last year, will not be held this year on June 22, as scheduled, for the first time in the history of the Shakti Peeth, the management committee said.

The Assam government on May 18 had issued relaxations except in containment and buffer zones, allowing all industries and their supply chains to operate.

E-commerce activities for all commodities are permitted till 7 pm, officials said.

All automobile dealerships and outlets are allowed to operate between 7 am and 7 pm.

Auto-rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, taxis and private four-wheelers shall operate with one driver and two others, maintaining social distancing, officials said.

For two-wheelers, pillion riding is allowed either with one woman or one child up to the age of 12 years, they said.

City buses, intra-district and inter-district buses shall operate with 50 per cent capacity and only 50 per cent of the total number of buses can operate under the authority of the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC).

Inter-state movement of buses will be allowed only after the states concerned mutually agree.

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