By Asia Samachar Team | MALAYSIA |
Eight gurdwaras have been permitted to operate on Sundays and under strict conditions from 10 June onwards as the Malaysian authorities try to open up places of worship in the next stage of the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Eighteen of the 26 gurdwaras that applied for operating permission did not make the cut at they were located in the red or yellow zones of the nation’s novel coronavirus tracker.
The eights gurdwaras – five from Perak and one each from Perlis, Johor and Sabah – are part of the 174 non-Muslim places of worship in green zones that will be allowed to open on selected days starting Jun 10, said Malaysian senior minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob in a press conference yesterday (21 May).
Four of the gurdwaras approved in the first round loosening for places of worship are from the Kinta Valley in Perak. They are Gurdwara Sahib Greentown Ipoh, Wadda Gurdwara Sahib Ipoh, Tambun and Bercham. Tapah is the other gurdwara from Perak. The other gurdwaras are Kangar, Muar and Sandakan.
The gurdwaras are only allowed to open on Sundays from 7am to 2pm and must keep its gates closed at other times.
“Most gurdwaras nationwide didn’t apply. Even our advise was they should only apply if they are from the green zone and that they can comfortably comply with the very strict operating conditions,” Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) president Jagir Singh told Asia Samachar.
The Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) has decided to continue to keep churches closed until the movement control order (MCO) is lifted, according to local media reports.
The movement control order (MCO), which took effect since March 18 to rein in the spread of COVID-19, saw the shutdown of prayer and all gatherings at places of worship nationwide.
MGC, which is representing the gurdwaras in meetings with the national health authorities, will be issuing a letter tomorrow to its members to outlines the conditions imposed by the health authority. A copy was emailed to Asia Samachar.
In the letter, MGC has outlined the following points from the SOP:
(i) At one time there can only be maximum of 30 persons allowed to enter and strict Social Distancing to be observed.
(ii) Signboards relating to Social Distancing of at least 1 Meter should be put up.
(iii) Sanggat members who are above 70 years old and below 12 years old are not allowed to be present. This is for their own safety. This does not apply to Granthi Sahiban and Gurdwara staff.
(iv) Must set-up a centre and provide a book for Sanggat members to record their Name and Contact Number. No record of a person’s temperature is required.
(v) All present at Gurdwara Sahib must wear Masks for the duration they are there.
(vi) The Gurdwara committee members and the Sanggat attending must carry with them their identity cards.
(vii) The gates of the Gurdwara can only be opened for the period allowed for Prayer and to be closed immediately after Sanggat members have left.
(viii) No Langgar is allowed. However, “Packed Food” can be given out but cannot be eaten at the Gurdwara Sahib.
(ix) Strict cleanliness and Social Distancing to be observed at all times while at Gurdwara premises.
On applications from other gurdwaras to restart programmes, MGC said the committees can submit the form entitled “Cadangan Rumah Terpilih Dan Berdaftar Dalam Zon Hijau Semasa Tempoh Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan Bersyarat (PKPB)”, which has been distributed to all gurdwaras.
As for the remaining 113 gurdwaras, Jagir said they have been advised to continue to follow the earlier SOP, which include keeping their gates closed and ensuring no functions or Langgar allowed in the gurdwara premises.
For death, the sadharan paath (intermittent reading of the entire Guru Granth Sahib) can be commenced at the gurdwara and the antham ardas can be done.
“Here family members must report to the police and fill up the MCO form. The police will give direction and can allow up to 10 persons. For the purpose of cremation rites, there can be up to 20 family members gathered in the family house,” he said in the letter.
As per a directive form the National Registration Department dated 12 May, all marriage ceremonies are postponed until 31 July 2020.
“Some Gurdwaras have been carrying out welfare work in the past, which may be continued but the Gurdwaras gates to remain closed,” he said.
Malaysian gurdwaras to cancel Vaisakhi celebration (Asia Samachar, 27 March 2020)