Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma | File photo

The Meghalaya government is mulling to re-open places of worship in the state from the first week of October provided the COVID-19 situation improves, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said on September 7.

The state government had on June 8, revoked its earlier decision to allow places of worship to reopen from June 14, following a steady rise in COVID-19 positive cases.

“The government has decided to re-open places of worship in Meghalaya by the first week of October if the COVID-19 situation improves,” Sangma said after a meeting with leaders of different religious leaders under the banner of the Shillong All Faiths Forum (SAFF) at the state secretariat on September 7.

The chief minister informed that a committee consisting of members from faith organizations under the banner of the Shillong All Faiths Forum (SAFF) headed by Chief Secretary MS Rao will be constituted to revisit standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be put in place for the same.

Meghalaya has so far recorded over 3,000 positive cases of which 16 have died due to the viral infection.

Elaborating on the committee, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said that the government has directed the chief secretary to immediately convene a meeting of the sub-committee within this week and revisit these SOPs and protocols, which the government had notified two months ago.

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The committee, would work out the modalities on the specific SOPs that would be put in place at the places of worship once they are reopened.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed social, political, religious functions with a ceiling of 100 persons with effect from September 21.

However, Tynsong argued that allowing only 100 people is not reasonable as there are churches that can accommodate more than this as they have enough spaces for maintaining social distancing.

“Therefore, the committee will sit to revisit the SOPs and protocols and come back to the government for notifying it,” he said.

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