COVID guidelines issued for religious places
Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Asela Gunawardena today (23) issued a revised set of COVID-19 guidelines to be followed at religious places, in a bid to protect the clergy, staff, worshippers and others from contracting the virus.
Accordingly, no more than 50 persons will be permitted per prayer session at holy masses in churches, Bodhi Poojas/Bana preaching in Buddhist temples on Poya days, Friday (Jumu'a) Congregational Prayers at mosques and Friday prayer days in Hindu temples (Kovils).
Other gatherings outside the place of worship (at the entrance/exit, handwashing areas/hallways) are prohibited, while all worshippers are to refrain from handshaking, hugs or any other physical greetings/contact.
Further, all persons, including the priests are required to wear face masks, while a distance of one meter must be maintained between persons at all times.
Benches and floors are required to be marked one meter apart to ensure that social distancing is being maintained at all times, while handwashing facilities are to be provided at both the entrance and inside the places of worship.
Persons displaying even the slightest symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat etc. are advised to refrain from visiting.
Only a single prayer session (Waqth) will be permitted per mosque, while all worshippers are required to bring their own prayer mats.
Dr. Gunawardena added that worshippers should be seated at every other row, and they should be advised to perform ablution (Wudhu) at home, as best as possible.
Special religious festivals/food distributions, hand-to-hand passing of flower trays/water pots during Bodhi Poojas/Buddha Poojas will be prohibited until further notice, the DGHS noted.
Priests are required to distribute the consecrated host to the communicant's hand instead of keeping it on the tongue, while the sharing of wine during Holy Communion should not be practiced.
Priests are to refrain from applying holy ash (Vibhuti) or any other material on the forehead/body of worshippers.