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Places of worship to open from June 1: Mamata

Places of worship to open from June 1: Mamata
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Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced a series of relaxations from the first week of June with religious places reopening and cent per cent workforce being allowed in tea and jute industries following physical distancing norms.

Banerjee has also allowed buses to ferry passengers with full capacity but standing will not be allowed. The state government has also decided to increase the workforce in its offices from 50 to 70 per cent.

The Chief Minister said: "Religious places will open from June 1. Maximum 10 people will be allowed to enter at a time and all norms of physical distancing have to be maintained. However, no religious gathering or major festivals will be permitted and respective temple committees have to take responsibilities for the safety and security of the devotees."

She also advised to keep hand sanitisers at the entrance of these places and to engage volunteers following discussions with the local police station to ensure that all norms are followed.

Swami Suviranandaji, General Secretary, Ramakrishna Math and Mission said: "The Belur Math will be opened after 15 days from the date of relaxation. The devotees will be thermally screened and have to maintain physical distancing. They will assemble at the main gate of Belur Math and will be taken to the different temples following a specified route. They will not be allowed to stay at the math premises. However, they will not be allowed to offer pranam to the president and vice-president maharaj."

The announcement comes with only two days left for the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown to end on May 31.

Though the decision has been taken to increase the workforce in the state government offices to 70 per cent, in connection with the private sector, Banerjee tweeted: "In the private sector, I urge all to stay safe, work indoors as much as possible and to the best of their abilities. Prerogative lies with the respective managements of private entities to decide on workforce capacity and act accordingly."

She has also tweeted: "With multiple crises in the state, we've decided to increase State Government workforce capacity from 50% to 70%. Continuation of restoration work is one of the top priorities & this workforce increase will ensure that public services are uninterrupted and unhindered."

In connection with the running of tea and jute industry, Banerjee said: "We have decided to allow both the sectors to function with their entire workforce from June 1. Let people work as the Centre is yet to come up with any fruitful financial support for the unorganised sector." Later, she also tweeted: "The lockdown will continue with minimal effects. Jute Mills and Tea Gardens will operate with 100% workforce capacity. We are together in this. I am sure with all your cooperation and understanding Bengal will emerge victoriously!"

Considering that the number of passengers will go up once the offices start functioning with the entire workforce, the Chief Minister announced that relaxations have been given to both state-run and private buses to ply with passengers with full capacity from June 1 instead of ferrying 20 passengers at a time as stated earlier. But, standing will not be allowed.

The West Bengal Transport Corporation and Hooghly Nadi Jalapath Paribahan Samabay Samiti (HNJPSS) will also start operating vessels on nine routes on Hooghly from June 1 with not more than 40 per cent passengers.

While speaking on the COVID-19 situation in Kolkata, Banerjee said the rate of people testing positive has gone up in some pockets. Interestingly, the spread of the disease has got checked in slums while more cases are being found at the city's high-rises.

When asked about reopening of offices in containment zones, Banerjee said: "One has to make their own precautionary arrangements."

Stating that COVID-19 cases are going up in the state with the coming in of migrants, Banerjee said: "The state government is leaving no stone unturned to check its spread."

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