All religious places in J&K including Vaishno Devi to re-open from August 16

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JAMMU: In a major decision, the government of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday announced to re-open all religious places and places of worship including Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Major decision by J&K Government. All religious places and places of worship to open in Jammu & Kashmir from August 16, 2020. Religious processions and large religious gatherings remain strictly prohibited,” principal secretary and government spokesperson Rohit Kansal posted on his Twitter handle this evening.

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A senior official of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board said, “since the government has taken a decision to open religious places, we shall be strictly adhering to the Covid-19 SOPs before re-opening the shrine to devotees.”

It may be recalled the Centre had given its nod to re-open religious places from June 8 but following a spike in Covid-19 cases and death toll the decision was put on hold.

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, however, has done all the spade work.

“Sanitisation drives were being conducted on twin tracks, sanctum sanctorum and at Katra town. Circles are also being marked outside Yatra Parchi counter, at the Bhawan and two helipads at Katra and Sanji Chhat to ensure social distancing,” said official sources.

It has also been learnt that initially, local pilgrims will be allowed to visit the cave shrine.