17:27 GMT15 August 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India has issued a new set of guidelines, as the government announced a phased reopening of the nation starting 1 June, with the restrictions poised to continue strictly in containment zones demarcated by state governments. The movement of people from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. IST will remain restricted.

    Religious places and shopping malls in India reopened on Monday for the first time since 25 March, following a phased reopening of the lockdown, despite the country registering the highest single-day hike in the number of coronavirus cases.

    The decision to open malls and religious places comes a day after the country’s total tally of patients surpassed Italy and Spain to ascend to fifth place. The cumulative caseload of COVID-19 as of Monday was 256,611, with the addition of 9,983 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the federal Health Ministry.

    In the national capital, several prominent Hindu, Muslim, and Christian shrines opened after remaining closed for 75 days, like the temple Sai Baba on Lodhi Road, Fatehpur Masjid in the old city, and the Church of Velankanni in the Khan Market area.

    ​At a Hindu shrine in central Delhi, a man dressed up as "Hanuman", the monkey god, danced to the tune of drums as the temple was opened after 75 days.  

    ​In northern Punjab, the most revered shrine for Sikhs, the Golden Temple, also opened to the public to offer prayers, strictly following the guidelines issued by the federal Home Ministry.

    ​In Gorakhpur, ascetic Chief of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath offered prayers at the famous Gorakhnath Temple. Adityanath is also the patron of the temple.

    ​In Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh, Muslims offered prayers at the famous Idgah Mosque, strictly following social distancing norms and checking every devotee with thermal scanners.

    ​The Tirumala Temple in Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh was given a floral decoration on the first day of reopening after the lockdown.  

    ​In southern state of Karnataka, places of worship were opened for the first time since the lockdown began like the Sharana Basaveshwara Temple in Kalaburagi and Saint Mary’s Church in the capital Bengaluru.

    ​Shopping malls in several states and the national capital Delhi were opened on Monday, while for many other places, they will reopen on 30 June.

    “Restricted customer entry norms shall be implemented as per the norms, prevailing from time to time. Wherever possible, the option of scheduling customers will be implemented, giving real-time details of total customers present in the shopping centre. A norm of 75 sq ft per person will be strictly implemented and monitored on a real-time basis based on entry and exit data. Citizens above the age of 65 and below the age of 10 and pregnant ladies will be discouraged from entering the mall", Amitabh Taneja, Chairman of the Shopping Centres Association of India told Sputnik.

    Taneja said malls would function at 50-percent strength until further notice and all employees would be screened before being allowed entry to the mall.

    The federal Home Ministry, while issuing fresh guidelines for phase-wise opening of the lockdown had said the reopening would have an “economic focus”.

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    lockdown, COVID-19, New Delhi, India
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