TEMPLES and churches in Penang are following the standard operating procedure (SOP) of allowing only a limited number of people in their places of worship.
However, it is still a challenge for many of their committees to monitor if those who visit are fully vaccinated.
Kek Lok Si Temple trustee Datuk Seri Steven Ooi said it would not be possible to monitor the vaccination status of their visitors as the temple covered a large area.
“Kek Lok Si Temple sits on a 12ha plot with several exits and we can’t have guards or volunteers manning them.
“It is not practical as people would basically be anywhere in such a large area.”
Hence, said Ooi, the SOP at the temple in Ayer Itam would strictly be based on the number of people allowed to enter, instead of their vaccination status.
“The temple strictly follows the 12-people limit at any one time with guards inside to clear people out if the number increases,” he said.
The management of Arulmigu Sree Balathandayuthapani Waterfall Hilltop Temple, too, is observing a 12-people limit SOP and not the vaccination status of its devotees.
Temple committee chairman Datuk R. Subramaniam said the temple had decided against following the vaccination SOP as it was difficult for devotees to follow.
“Devotees are not happy when asked to show their vaccination status as they are there to pray. They also find it a hassle,” added Subramaniam.
Meanwhile, Dhammikarama Burmese Temple and Wat Chaiya Mangalaram Thai Buddhist Temple in Pulau Tikus are still closed to the public.
A check showed a few devotees within Wat Chaiya Mangalaram temple grounds offering prayers for the Hungry Ghost Festival although the main hall where the reclining Buddha statue is located was closed.
Dhammikarama Burmese Temple chairman Teoh Kai Beng said the temple was closed for almost a year nd was not sure when it would be opened.
“We do not have any caretakers presently to monitor the devotees other than four monks and two cooks as all have left during the pandemic.
“As such, we will not be able to monitor the vaccination status of whoever who comes in, and have decided not to open until we are absolutely sure it is safe to do so,” added Teoh.
Over on the mainland, Minor Basilica of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam is opening its doors to those fully vaccinated, with a maximum of 50 people under the SOP.
Church deacon Rev Lazarus Jonathan said they have people stationed at the gates to only allow worshippers in after checking their vaccination status.
“The church allows a total of 50 people at any one time from 6am to 9pm,” he said.
Individuals are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the second dose of either the Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Sinovac vaccines, and 28 days after being jabbed with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson or CanSino vaccines.