On the 482nd death anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, on September 22, Pakistan has decided to allow fully-vaccinated pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur from next month with strict COVID-19 protocol.

Three-day rituals are planned at the shrine starting September 20 for Guru Nanak, who died in Kartarpur on September 22, 1539. Last year, the pilgrimage was suspended in march as the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the world resulting in lockdowns in almost all countries.

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This year, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) in Pakistan decided to restart the pilgrimage under strict COVID-19 protocols. Pakistan had placed India in category C from May 22 till August 12 as the Delta variant of COVID raged through India.

According to protocol, countries in category A are exempted from the mandatory COVID-19 test, travellers from areas falling in category B are required to present a negative PCR test that must be taken within 72 hours of the travel date, while visitors from nations in category C are restricted and can travel only under specific NCOC guidelines.

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Here are the guidelines that pilgrims to Kartarpur Sahib must follow:

*Only fully-vaccinated persons, with certificates, will be allowed to enter Pakistan.

* But, they need to carry Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test reports that should not be older than 72 hours.

* Apart from the RT-PCR report, Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) will also be conducted at airports 

* If the antigen test is positive, the individual will not be allowed to enter Pakistan.

* A maximum of 300 people will be permitted to assemble at a time at the darbar.

* Pilgrims will be expected to practice social distancing and will have to wear masks.

Pakistan resumed the Kartarpur Sahib pilgrimage after several rounds of talks between the officials of the two countries. An agreement to the effect was signed on October 24, 2019. Under the pact, Indian pilgrims of all faiths are allowed to undertake round-the-year visa-free travel through the Kartarpur corridor to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, one of the most revered shrines of Sikhs, in Pakistan.