The Jagannath Temple, which was closed for non-Puri residents for the last three months amid the pandemic, will finally reopen from August 23 with strict adherence to Covid-19 rules.
As Covid-19 cases were showing a downward trend in Odisha, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) had decided to reopen Srimandir in a phased manner. In the first phase, only family members of the servitors were allowed the access on August 12 and 13. In the second phase, the residents of Puri municipality were permitted to have Darshan of the Holy Trinity from August 16 to August 20. In the third phase, outsiders will be allowed to enter the Srimandir from August 23. The Darshan timing will be from 7 am to 7 pm, and the temple will remain closed for public on all weekends so that the premises could be sanitised. It will also be shut for the upcoming festivals such as Janamasthami on August 30 and Ganesh Chaturthi on September 10 to avoid any spike in the cases. The following Covid-19 guidelines need to be followed to enter the temple: Fully-vaccinated devotees will have to produce the latest vaccination certificate while the partially-vaccinated ones will have to furnish a negative RTPCR report taken in not less than 96 hours; face masks, hand sanitisation and social distancing are mandatory. People will have to bring their photo ID card, namely, Aadhaar Card or Voter ID. Moreover, bringing flowers or bhoga or deepa inside the temple, touching statues or idols are prohibited, and so is chewing of tobacco and paan. A fine of Rs 500 will be charged for violating any rule. Other rules include prohibition of plastic bags inside the temple; partaking of Mahaprasad inside Ananda Bazar or temple premises. There will be a separate queue for differently-abled devotees for Darshan. Senior citizens, children, people having co-morbidities are advised to not visit the temple in view of the Covid-19 situation. All devotees will enter through Singhadwara. After the Darshan, the exit will be through Uttaradwar. Four doors of the temple have been barricaded and sanitised, with fire teams being deployed. Vishal Singh, superintendent of police, Puri, said, 'We have made adequate arrangement for the safety and smooth Darshan of the Holy Trinity. We will deploy extra force for tourists. We will also have a QR feedback system through which the tourists will send their feedback.'