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Mask-wearing worshippers in temples as India reopens amid rise in coronavirus cases

People wearing protective masks pray as they maintain social distancing inside an ISKCON temple after the opening of most of the religious places after India eases lockdown restrictions that were imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ahmedabad, India, June 8, 2020. REUTERS/Amit Dave

NEW DELHI – Shopping malls and restaurants in India reopened on Monday and people wearing masks trickled into temples and mosques in an easing of the coronavirus lockdown despite a record single-day rise in infections.

After imposing the lockdown in March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is under pressure to fully restart the economy and get people back to work.

Strict guidelines have been issued for the opening up of public places and offices to prevent a further surge of infections in the world’s second-most populous country.

India’s total number of coronavirus cases reached 256,611, the health ministry said, after a record one-day jump of 9,983 infections. Health experts say India’s peak could still be weeks away, if not months. Deaths from COVID-19 stood at 7,135.

Delhi will not allow hotels to reopen because it said it might need to convert them into temporary hospitals if there is a big jump in cases.

At Hindu temples in the capital and elsewhere in the country, worshippers wore masks, stood 6 feet (2 metres) part and went through thermal scanners.

Harsh Vyas of an ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temple in the western city of Ahmedabad said access was strictly controlled.

“We are allowing only a small number of devotees inside the temple at one time. We have drawn circles where they need to stand to ensure proper distancing of at least 6 feet,” Vyas said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal went into self-isolation at home after a bout of fever and throat pain, his party said. A coronavirus test is scheduled for Tuesday.

“He has been a corona warrior, he has been at the frontline of this fight, we hope he recovers soon,” said Raghav Chadha, a party legislator.

In Mumbai a few offices opened and in the suburbs there were long queues at bus stops as commuter trains have not yet opened.


June 8, 2020

Additional reporting by Manoj Kumar, Devjyot Ghoshal and Neha Arora in New Delhi, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai Sumit Khanna in Ahmedabad, Saurabh Sharma in Lucknow; Editing by Angus MacSwanOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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