Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board is mulling on increasing the number of pilgrims outside the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir from the current 100 to 200 or more.
Amidst strict COVID protocol, only 2000 pilgrims can go the Holy Place in the Reasi district of the union territory. Of these 2000, 1900 are from within the union territory and only 100 can be outside it.
Ramesh Kumar Jangid, Chief Executing Officer of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Jammu and Kashmir told WION, “We have kept outsider capacity at 100. This will be reviewed this week. This is expected to be increased. The maximum limit can be 500 till September if allowed”.
The Shrine board has come up with protocols for the pilgrimage for outsiders, which includes–carrying a COVID negative report which is not more than 48 hours old and only online registered yatris can be allowed. They can register by going to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine.
In accordance with the Ministry of Home Affairs COVID guidelines, children below 10 years, above 60, persons with comorbidity, pregnant women won’t be allowed at the shrine.
At entry point also, yatris will be checked by thermal scanning and all along with the route and even at the Holy Caves, strict COVID rules of social distancing are being implemented.
Yatris without mask or face cover are not allowed at the shrine, and at every location, sanitizers have been kept.
The pilgrimage resumed earlier this month on 16th August. Helicopter services till the shrine has also started but due to lack of pilgrims, no chopper has flown yet. The Shrine Board is mulling to put helicopter services as an option during online registration.