The UK is starting to gradually adjust to its ‘new normal’ as coronavirus lock-down measures are being relaxed – with a large-scale rollback of lock-down measures in England which were implemented over the weekend of 4th July and are still continuing throughout July.

With other aspects of life slowly approaching normality, places of worship also opened up to the public. Resuming to normal activity is obviously out of the question with churches, synagogues, mosques and temples which were forced to close in the wake of lock-down back in March. But they have now opened the doors and British Asia News (BAN) went to visit the Willesden Shree Swaminarayan Temple to see what the new normal will look like when visiting places of worship.

Willesden Temple had prepped its devotees a week in advance with letters, leaflets and communication of what would be put into place for the opening and what devotees and visitors should expect and follow for a safe visit to the temple for all.

On Sunday 5th July at 3 pm it opened its door back to the community and what we saw was the new normal. The precautions taken and safeguarding measure put into the opening clearly following all COVID-19 regulations.

Measures put into place where on point- with volunteers prepped through out the week and supporting devotees and visitors to have a safe visit. A 2 meter apart orderly queue formed stopping at the hand sanitation station before entering the temple doors, a one way system of going in through the back and leaving through the front. All devotees were told before hand in the information leaflets to bring face mask and each and every person had a face mask on.

If they had forgotten a face-mask, not a big deal, just before entering the temple volunteer staff were at hand with spare masks.

The temple set facilities for vulnerable people, elderly and people with babies. One hour slots have been allocated on each Saturday at 11am for them to attend the temple and pray exclusively and safely.

Kavita a volunteers said to BAN “we were overwhelmed with the support and cooperation of devotees attending. She said there was a mix of emotions people were happy to be back, some were crying out of happiness that they got to see their lord after so long”. She said “There were 3 priests who looked after the murtis (statues of god) and temple keeping it clean and looking after the gods statues.”

The old people’s home next door had a donation which was covered by a community member who paid for food and medication during the lock-down period.

The order, the devotion, emotion and the tears were moving to witness. People were respectful the temple had put all COVID-19 regulations in place for a safe return to praying.

A phased opening system means everyone can pray safely – keep up to date with British Asia News as we bring you more news from around the UK regarding safe openings of places of worship.

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