Temples, hotels, malls reopen as Bengaluru unlocks

Scores of temples, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls reopened in India’s tech hub, as unlock-1 began under new norms after they remained shut for over two months due to Covid-induced extended lockdown since March 25, an official said on Monday.

“A steady stream of devotees made a beeline to many temples that reopened across the city in non-containment zones, wearing mask and maintaining physical distancing,” a state muzrai (endowment) department official told IANS.

As per the new guidelines, the devout were screened with thermal scanners to ensure no symptomatic person entered the temples.

Among religious places where devotees thronged is Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple at Gavipuram in southwest suburb, Dodda Ganesha temple at upscale Basavangudi in southern suburb and Venkateshwara temple at Vaillkavali in northwest suburb.

“We have distributed the guidelines in English and Kannada to all places of worship across the city and the state to strictly comply for the safety of all,” said the official.

“As offerings like ‘prasadam’ and sprinkling of holy water are not allowed, some of the devotees who went to the temples by habit, were told to leave them outside before entering the premises,” noted the official.

About 10-20 devotees were allowed entry at a time depending the size and availability of space in the temples and the time they take to worship.

“Many temples also deployed volunteers to ensure the devotees don’t touch the deities, statues, idols and holy books and maintain 6 feet distance between them in the sanctum sanatorium,a the official added.

Community kitchens, langars and ann-daan at religious places were told to follow physical distancing norms while preparing and distributing food.

Similarly, several hotels, restaurants and eateries called “Darshinis” re-opened in many residential and commercial areas of the city for dining and takeaways, keeping in view the new norms.

“We have deployed additional personnel to screen customers entering the restaurant with thermal scanners and regulated their entry and exit into the premises to ensure social distancing. Washing of hands with sanitiser and wearing mask are compulsory,” Upahaar manager S. Diwakar told IANS in the city’s eastern suburb.

To avoid crowding and allow only 50 per cent of the dining capacity for serving with plastic separation on every table, the eateries have set up parcel counters outside the dining hall.

“We have started using paper napkins instead of cloth type. All tables are sanitized each time a customer leaves after dining,” said Diwakar.

Though popular shopping malls such as Forum, Phoenix, Orion, Mantri Square, In Orbit and Garuda across the city also reopened for business, customers were slow in coming.

“As it is the first working day of the week and citizens are at work from home or in offices, they will come calling into the malls by evening for shopping and dining in food courts,” a manager of a mall told IANS on phone.

As directed by the state government, all malls have employed more guards to screen the shoppers, make them wash their hands and wear mask before stepping inside.

“Cinema halls, children play areas and gaming arcades, however, remained closed as per the guidelines. They will be reopened gradually in phases,” an official of the Bengaluru city corporation said.

“To maintain social distancing, entry of shoppers has been regulated and only 50 percent of the mall capacity is allowed to go around at a time, while others have to wait for their turn,” the manager added.

The state government has advised elderly people above 60 years and children below 10 years not to risk going to temples, restaurants or malls to prevent being infected by the coronavirus.

Hand hygiene, face mask, respiratory etiquette and thermal scans are some of the common norms made mandatory in all the sectors.