New Delhi: Pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine near Katra will start from Sunday (August 16). The shrine board has allowed the Yatra with 2,000 pilgrims during the first week.

Of the 2,000 pilgrims, only 100 people from outside Jammu and Kashmir will be allowed to participate in a day. The situation will be reviewed after a week and the decision will be taken accordingly.

Earlier on March 18, the pilgrimage to the shrine was suspended in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic situation. The Jammu and Kashmir government on August 11 decided to open the religious places or places of worship in the union territory, issuing several guidelines for the pilgrims undertaking the yatra.

The Yatra is resuming nearly five months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus. The government also issued several guidelines for the pilgrims undertaking the yatra. 

According to the J&K administration, children under the age of 10 will not be able to travel and all pilgrims will have to wear masks. Travel will be closed at night and for the time being, there is a prohibition on the stay of the devotees at the Mata Bhavan. 

Further, devotees will also not be allowed to attend the ‘Aarti’ held in the morning.

Registration of pilgrims should be made only through online mode, in order to avoid any assembly of persons at current counters

For pilgrims coming from outside Jammu & Kashmir, the protocol of 100% compulsory COVID-19 antigen testing, as laid down in Government Order Dated 30.07.2020 will be followed. 

Permission to proceed beyond Katra on yatra shall be accorded only when the coronavirus result of these pilgrims is negative. Pilgrims from Red districts of J&K shall also be compulsorily tested and allowed to proceed on yatra if the result is negative. 

Necessary administrative arrangement and coordination will be done by concerned District authorities and Shrine Board.

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