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Our Correspondent
DUBAI

Places of worship, including churches and temples, are gearing up to open for worshippers once they get the official nod. The date for opening is yet to be set by authorities, but necessary precautions are being followed to aid the return of devotees.
Bulletins have been posted in some churches regarding the guidelines that have to be followed during in-house worship. They include:
Places of worship will open only during the prayer timings agreed with the authorities. They will operate at a maximum of 50 per cent of their capacity prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There should be two separate lines for entry and exit of people; worshipers should practise physical distancing at all times and avoid overcrowding.
The temperature of worshipers should be measured before allowing them entry into the premises. Those with a temperature over 37.5 degrees Celsius will not be permitted inside.
The prayer should start exactly at the agreed time and the place of worship should be closed immediately after the prayer. Worshipers have to leave the place of worship immediately after the prayer.
Masks and gloves are not to be distributed at the entrance; food donations or distribution within or around the premises of places of worship are not allowed.
Doors and windows should remain open from the start to the end of prayers. Worshipers who have been in contact with any COVID positive patient should not enter the place of worship. Those with chronic diseases and prone to infections should also not enter the place of worship. Children under 12 years and senior citizens over 60 years are also not permitted in.
Fr Ninan Philip Panackamattam, vicar of the St. Thomas Orthodox Cathedral in Oud Metha, Dubai, commended the efforts of the Community Development Authority (CDA) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to outline a clear plan of action for reopening. He said the church authorities are taking special care to abide by the guidelines notified by the CDA, which includes a complete fumigation and disinfection drive inside and within the church premises; introduction of five services in addition to the Friday morning mass; and the setting up of a thermal scanner at entry points.
He added that the church has set up an online registration system to divide the members of the parish into different groups for attending the service, and stickers to maintain two-meter distance are placed inside the church. As of now, the church has been streaming the Mass live for devotees.
The St Mary’s Catholic Church and the Holy Trinity Church, both in Oud Metha, are also planning to follow all the necessary precautions and disinfection programme.
The Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara in Jebel Ali has also taken the necessary precautions to welcome worshippers, including a sanitising tunnel, thermal scanners and hand sanitisers.

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