By Madhava Smullen

With the U.S. State of Florida, and within it Alachua County, in Phase One of Reopening from COVID-19 lockdown, ISKCON’s New Raman Reti temple in Alachua has also started phase one of a gradual reopening process with careful restrictions.

To do so, Temple President Mukhya Dasi is consulting local government recommendations, as well as her own committee consisting of two phsyicians, one nurse, and two members of management. She’s also taking guidance from Nila Madhava Das, a doctor, anesthesiologist and member of the COVID-19 team at Baltimore’s Northwest Hospital. Nila Madhava serves as temple president of ISKCON Baltimore, and is also beginning to reopen his temple with similar precautions. 

Mukhya cautions that the gradual reopening at ISKCON Alachua is a trial run, and that the temple will continue to monitor Coronavirus cases in the Alachua area, where the rate of positive results from testing is currently low. “If cases goes up too much in our area, we will cut back; if the virus continues its current trend, we will probably continue as planned,” she says. 

ISKCON Alachua began phase 1a of its plan a week ago. This phase allows one individual or one family who has been sheltering at home together in the same household to sign up for a time slot, and lead a kirtan during one arati on a particular day. 

The individual or family leading are the only people present in the temple room besides pujaris. They are also asked to use hand sanitizer or wash their hands with soap and water before entering, wear masks, offer obeisances standing up, and stay at least six feet away from each other. The person leading kirtan may remove their mask, while the others should keep their masks on while joining in the kirtan. (Alachua County is a mandatory mask-wearing county.)

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