Puri: The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on Sunday decided to withdraw the mandatory showing of COVID-19 negative report by devotees for entry into the shrine from January 21.
The SJTA Chief Administrator, Krishan Kumar, told this to mediapersons after a review meeting.
“As the provision was mandatory for devotees, there was a gradual fall in the number of visitors to the temple as most of them could not manage to show the COVID-19 negative report,” he said.
“Taking this into consideration, it has been decided that there will be no such provision for the devotees from January 21 onwards,” he added.
Kumar further informed that the temple administration has decided to allow about 30,000 devotees to enter the temple after January 21.
“To facilitate the entry of more devotees from outside Puri town, the temple will remain open from 7 am from January 21. The residents of Puri town and its periphery will be allowed darshan for one hour from 6 am to 7 am. But if they want to have darshan of the Lords after 7 am, they can come in a queue. The new rules will remain in force for one month from January 21 to February 21,” he pointed out.
Special provision for elderly persons
On his part, Puri Collector Samarth Verma said special arrangements will be made for elderly people to enter the temple. “To avoid rush, it has been decided that there will be a separate queue for elderly persons,” he added.
He also said that though the devotees will not have to show the COVID-19 negative report, they will have to strictly adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines like social distancing, wearing mask and using sanitizers.
To avoid large congregation inside the temple, there will be no eating of Mahaprasad in the Anand Bazar complex, the collector maintained.
Jagannath temple to be closed on Sundays
He also said that as a preventive measure, the temple will remain closed every Sunday for complete sanitization.