Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday indicated about reopening of religious places in the state post-Diwali festival. In a webcast, Thackeray said he is receiving a lot of criticism for not opening places of worship.
He said, "We are so involved in offering prayers and may neglect COVID-19 safety protocols. What if a coronavirus positive person infects senior citizens from our families who visit the places of worship?"
He further stated that a standard operating procedure will be drafted to ensure physical distancing in holy places. According to Thackeray, masks will be made compulsory in places of worship.
"I am ready for brickbats if it ensures good health and safety of citizens. How to avoid crowds and ensure physical distancing in places of worship will be worked out and a standard operating procedure will be drafted after Diwali," the Maharashtra CM said.
He advised people to avoid bursting firecrackers in Diwali as pollution catalyses coronavirus infection rate. Giving an example of Delhi, Thackeray said that pollution was one of the causes of rise in coronavirus cases in the national capital.
Meanwhile, CM Thackeray has given his nod to reopen classes 9 to 12 of in the state from November 23. The state government has made it compulsory to sanitise schools and conduct coronavirus tests of teachers. All teachers in Maharashtra will have to undergo RT-PCR coronavirus tests between November 17 and 22. Classes will be held on alternate days. Only one student will be seated per bench.
Students who are sick or those who have a sick family member at home must not be sent to schools, Thackeray added.
Maharashtra witnessed a drop in coronavirus cases on Saturday as 3,959 new cases were reported. The state's count of coronavirus cases has gone up to 17,14,273 and it has reported 99,151 active cases to date. So far, 45,115 people have died due to COVID-19 in the state.