The Corona protection concept shows how events can take place again within the framework of the protection measures that are still in force. Ensuring the health and safety of all those involved is a top priority.

1.    Starting point

In addition to the current COVID-19 regulation of the Federal Council, the following overriding principles must be observed:

  • Compliance with the hygiene rules of the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG)
  • Social-Distancing (2 m minimum distance between persons and no physical contact)
  • The maximum group size is based on current official regulations. – If possible, same group size.
  • Persons at special risk must comply with the specific requirements of the BAG
  • The BAG guidelines are displayed clearly visible at the entrance and other locations

This protection concept specifies the internal processes and is updated at regular intervals to the following version based on version 1, in line with the development of the COVID-19 measures and requirements. The flow of information to the various stakeholder groups is thus ensured via the website www.somaskanda.org.

2.    Principle

In order to enable a gradual return to normal for pilgrims visiting the temple of Somaskanda, the following measures will be taken: increased control of pilgrims and the ability of planning for visitors and organisers.

It is important that chains of infection can be traced and the infection with COVID-19 can be contained. The Swamis Council and the foundation board are responsible for the implementation of the protection concept and ultimately the visitors are responsible for their own safety.

Compliance with the hygiene rules of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) has top priority.

3.    Information concept

As a means of informing those present about general protection measures, the BAG’s information panel will be prominently displayed and verbally pointed out at each major gathering. All important information is presented on the website.

4.    Protection of particularly vulnerable persons and pilgrims

This includes not shaking hands, coughing or sneezing in the crook of your arm and washing/disinfecting your hands regularly and thoroughly.

Pilgrims are primarily advised to stay at home. The current digital live-stream offers will be maintained for pilgrims and especially for those at risk.

Pilgrims who are ill or have had contact with an ill person are not allowed to visit the ashram and temple Somaskanda. The duration depends on the guidelines of the BAG.

Pilgrims who have any fever, cough or sore throat before or on arrival are asked not to make a pilgrimage to Somaskanda.

Swamis, Brothers or Sisters who are particularly vulnerable should be given increased protection. That means for celebrations or rituals, if possible a substitute will ensure that the person at risk has his own access to the altar. In this case a face mask is recommended for the particularly endangered person.

5.    Entrance control

In front of the temple entrance, spacers are glued to the floor so that a staggered entry into the temple is possible. When leaving the temple, one person coordinates the leaving of the room, so that a staggered leaving with the necessary distance is also possible.

In accordance with the permitted assembly sizes specified by the BAG, pilgrims are counted at the entrance. Registration is possible on the website or by telephone. Personal details such as addresses, telephone number and pilgrimage date are required for registration.

Pilgrims must arrive in good time to avoid congestion at the entrance. In front of the entrance there is a sanitation station with a disinfectant dispenser. Visitors are required to disinfect their hands before entering.

Should it become apparent after an event that a person infected with COVID-19 was present, the person responsible will immediately inform the Swami in the ashram and the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees informs the visitors of the respective event in a timely manner and draws their attention to the BAG rules regarding this incident.

6.    Social distancing rules

Keeping a distance still applies: the “social distance” of two metres must be maintained. It is the individual responsibility of the organisers and the pilgrims.

Temple events:

From the altar to the first row of visitors, a two meter distance is allowed by a floor marker.

A special seating arrangement will be established, in accordance with the BAG’s instructions concerning the distance between seats. The maximum number of pilgrims in the temple is limited to 15 (excluding the temple team). The BAG recommends about 4m2 for each person present (example: in a room of 100 m2 , a maximum of 25 people may meet). The respective seats are also 2 metres apart.

Open-air events:

The Ganesh plaza is limited to 20 pilgrims (excluding the temple team). The respective seats are also 2 metres apart.

Nandi Square is limited to 4 pilgrims (excluding the temple team). The respective seats are also 2 metres apart.

7.    Hygiene measures

Cushions and carpets are removed. Chairs are set up for sitting. Private chairs or cushions are allowed and will be taken back after the event.

Adherence to these measures and intensified, conventional surface cleaning provide effective protection against human-to-human transmission. Regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, especially contact points such as doors, chairs, floor surfaces and toilets, is necessary. When cleaning and safe disposal, care is taken to wear gloves and to handle waste properly. Great importance is attached to the ventilation of the room. Regular air exchange 10 minutes before, once during and after the event in the Tempelhaus is considered a measure.

The microphone is used continuously by the same person. This can be a Swami, a Brother or a Sister. This person is also responsible for cleaning the microphone.

The Aarthi is brought to a designated spot. Again, someone is appointed to clean it with gloves, then the gloves are taken off and it is brought to the temple, and after the blessing the Aarthi is then taken to the appropriate place. This task is to be performed constantly by the same person before and after the ceremony.

The Vibhuti is distributed in packaged portions. The distribution is carried out by a person who has disinfected his hands before distribution.

Bhajan books must be brought by each pilgrim individually. Handed out papers with texts are distributed when necessary and are handled in the same way as the distribution of the vibhuti. Musical instruments must be cleaned after use.

Offerings: Fresh food will be cleaned before serving. Packed food will be stored for three days before usage.

For the distribution of food and drinks the Ashram follows the protection concept and recommendations of the Gastrosuisse

The establishment ensures that the minimum distance of 2 metres can be maintained in WC facilities. This means that toilet use is limited to 1 pilgrim. A disinfectant is provided at the entrance to the building and a notice board is hung up with “WC free” or “WC occupied”. The toilet facilities are cleaned and disinfected by each user. Disposable gloves and toilet wipes are to be used! 
Please enter in the cleaning protocol vis à vis WC entrance.

8.    Group sizes

According to the respective current requirements of the BAG.

9.    Monitoring

The tracking measures ordered by the BAG are fully implemented. Somaskanda ashram keeps a record of the pilgrims who have been there. Pilgrims are asked to leave their name, address and telephone number. It is ensured that the addresses are kept. The personal details of the pilgrims are professionally deleted one month after visiting the temple.

Issued on 26 May 2020

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