Govt reopens non-Muslim places of worship
Peshawar: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) government lifted the ban on prayers and gatherings in non-Muslim places of worship.
However, faithful believers must abide by the safety guidelines of churches, temples, and Gudvaras to prevent viruses.
The Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation and Liquidation Department notified the cancellation of the ban and said it will conduct a review based on Covid-19’s situation and the recommendations of health experts.
According to standard operating procedures, the floor of the place of worship will not be covered with carpets, and the believer will pray on the bare floor.
According to the department, if the floor of the place of worship is muddy, a personal carpet will be used; if the carpet cannot be removed, it will be covered with plastic cloth and should be cleaned regularly.
Worshippers must follow safety guidelines to prevent viruses.
Both before and after prayer will avoid the formation of rallies and are hindered by managing various non-Muslim places of worship.
If these places of worship have patios, prayers will be held there instead of praying in enclosed or covered areas, and the place of prayer shall not exceed the facilities.
Children, the elderly, and people with comorbidities or Covid-19 symptoms will not be able to visit churches and temples.
Floors, benches and chairs in the worship area will be cleaned with disinfectant.
The department said that at non-Muslim places of worship, it will ensure that believers are six feet apart, and if possible, will be marked at such places, and will not violate the sanctity of the facility.
He added that handshake and hugs are not allowed.
He said that the authorities of the places of worship of ethnic minorities will maintain close contact with the corresponding regional authorities and police.
The department said that in the baptized anteroom and other parts of the church, the amount of holy water should be kept at a certain level to comply with the single person principle.
He added that railings, altars, tabernacles and pulpits will be cleaned with disinfectants, and tableware used in ceremonies will also be disinfected and used exclusively.
The department said it will set up a committee for each non-Muslim worship area to ensure the implementation of SOP to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
He said that marches would be prohibited in these places.
At the same time, the minority Wazirzada MPA told Dawn that non-Muslims are prohibited from worshiping and holding parties in the chapel to accommodate Covid-19, but the restrictions have been relaxed to allow them to pray there according to the SOP.
He said that during the closure of places of worship, non-Muslims prayed at home with online religious leaders.
The congressman said that teaching staff are required to perform SOPs at the site.
He said that large churches will continue to be banned and SOP violations will be strictly handled.