PURI: Amidst an upsurge in coronavirus transmission, the Shree Jagannath Temple administration (SJTA) on Friday made RT-PCR negative reports mandatory for pilgrims from outside the State for entry into the shrine.Revising its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), the temple administration said, all devotees coming in from other states will have to produce Covid-19 negative reports generated within 96 hours of their entry. Alternatively, those who have received both doses of vaccine can produce the vaccination certificate. However, locals will be exempted from this norm.
The new SOP, which was devised after Chief Administrator of SJTA Dr Krishan Kumar held a virtual meeting with Chhatisha Nijog earlier in the day, will come into effect from April 19. Collector Samarth Varma, SP K Vishal Singh and managing body members took part in the meeting.Devotees intending to enter the Srimandir will have to produce Aaadhar or photo ID cards at the Simhadwar. While devotees could enter through Simhadwar, they must exit through other three gates.
The SOP also mandated that the temple would be closed for devotees on Saturdays and Sundays. Earlier it remained closed only on Sundays for sanitisation. Though the temple will be closed on the weekends, servitors would perform their respective duties.However, devotees can have darshan of the deities from the “Bahar Kanth” and return. Three security teams would enforce minimum social distance norms among devotees from barricades till exit from temple. This apart, every devotee should wear face mask properly and sanitise hands and not touch anything in the temple nor carry any offering.
The SOP said, temple complex including barricades would be sanitised on Sunday and interiors would be done twice in a week after completion of all nitees and rituals in the night. It was also resolved to sanitise the Badadanda. Temple administration has been taking adequate care to protect the servitors as several important festivals and rituals are approaching, including Chandan Yatra and observance of Ram Navami, the day construction of three chariots for annual Rath Yatra would be initiated by carpenters.
The Covid care centre at Nilachal Bhakta Nivas which was closed would be reactivated from Saturday where infected servitors would be treated in isolation.Similarly, the Puri administration is keeping a close vigil on servitors and their families returning after participating in Haridwar Kumbh Mela. Steps are being taken to conduct their RT-PCR test, said AK Jena, Administrator (Development).