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US religious institutions temporarily suspend services

Washington:  Religious institutions across the US were following guidelines and many have either issued advisories or closed down for the time being amid the coronavirus pandemic which has killed 68 Americans and infected over 3,500 others.

At The Hindu Temple Society of North America, Flushing, New York there was a COVID-19 advisory in place for all visitors, The American Bazaar said in a report on Sunday.

The website has put up an entry restriction notice saying: “If you are sick with flu like symptoms (such as fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhoea, shortness of breath, muscle aches) or recently travelled to an affected area, please do not enter Sri Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devasthanam premises and if necessary seek medical advice.”

It also advises devotees “not to hand touch the prasadam. Use the spoon and wear a poly gloves (powder free approved for food handling). Not to hand touch theertham/sacred water, vibhooti, kumkum, chandan. Use only spoon”.

“Home-made or outside purchased naivedyam/sweet offerings brought by devotees shall not be distributed in the temple premises,” the notice said, adding: “Maintain appropriate distance between devotees while participation in poojas.”

The Bellevue Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Seattle has for now cancelled its Holi event and has put up a notice that it will rescheduled later.

At the St Andrews Episcopal Church in Saratoga, Sunday services will be live streamed instead of worshippers coming and attending the church.

The San Jose Buddhist church has also decided to live stream and conduct virtual prayer services for next three Sundays.

A few churches in San Jose area were offering online only services for the next few weeks.