In August, the holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Jammu & Kashmir’s Reasi district resumed for pilgrimage after nearly 5 months of suspension due to the novel coronavirus. Initially, there were restrictions that included a cap on the number of people allowed to visit the shrine every day, keeping in view the safety guidelines to curb the spread of Covid-19 disease. Recently, the shrine board has increased the quota for pilgrims from outside Jammu & Kashmir from 100 to 500 people daily.Also Read - 4 Tips to Maintain Healthy and Glowing Nail Hygiene During Covid-19

A cap of 2,000 pilgrims daily, including 100 from outside Jammu and Kashmir, was imposed initially. Also Read - Govt Swings Into Action as 'More Contagious' Delta Variant AY.4.2 Detected in Karnataka, Maharashtra And MP | Key Points

“The pilgrimage to the cave shrine is proceeding smoothly and picking up pace with each passing day. Keeping this in view, the quota of pilgrims from outside Jammu and Kashmir has been enhanced to 500 per day, out of a ceiling of 2,000 daily, till further orders,” said Ramesh Kumar, the Chief Executive Officer of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. Also Read - 'You Can Not Board Mumbai Local Trains if ...', Maharashtra Govt's BIG Decision Every Mumbaikar Should Know

He said the accommodations provided by the shrine board at Bhawan, Adhkuwari, Katra and Jammu have also been opened for the pilgrims, by following all prescribed standard operating procedures (SoPs) because of the pandemic.

Supplementary facilities for the comfort of pilgrims, including battery-operated vehicles, passenger ropeway and helicopter services, are operating smoothly by strictly following the social distancing norms and other precautionary measures, Kumar said.

“Besides the food stalls in the shrine area en-route to Bhawan, free community kitchen at Tarakote Marg and ”prasad Kendra” at Sanjichhat have also been operationalized by the board for the pilgrims,” he said.

Online booking for ‘Shradha Suman Vishesh Pooja’ has also commenced.

The pilgrims are allowed to undertake the pilgrimage after registration through online mode only. This has been done to avoid assembly of people at the registration counters, officials said.

According to them, it is also mandatory for the pilgrims to wear face masks and to undergo thermal scanning at the entry points.

Children below the age of 10 years, pregnant women, persons with co-morbidities, and those above 60 years have been advised to avoid undertaking the pilgrimage for their safety from contracting the coronavirus infection, the officials said.

COVID-19 test reports of pilgrims from outside Jammu and Kashmir and those from ‘Red Zone’ districts of the Union Territory are being checked at the helipad and the ‘yatra’ entry points of Darshani Deodi, Banganga, and Katra.

(With inputs from PTI)