COVID-19 guidelines: Centre eases restrictions on cinema halls, swimming pools
The Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday issued fresh COVID-19 guidelines for surveillance, containment, and caution. The Ministry noted that the number of active infections has been declining steadily the past four months. The new central guidelines, which will be effective from February 1 to February 28, are aimed at consolidating the "substantial gains" achieved in containing COVID-19 so far.
If required, containment zones will be demarcated by district authorities at the "micro-level," in line with central guidelines. Strict containment measures will be enforced in these containment zones, where only essential activities are allowed. The local district, police, and municipal authorities are to ensure compliance with containment measures. State/UT governments shall ensure accountability of officers concerned, the guidelines stated.
Social/sports/entertainment/cultural/educational/religious gatherings are allowed as per SOPs issued by state/UT governments. Previously, such gatherings were capped at 50% of hall capacity or 200 persons. Cinema halls/theaters—previously allowed with up to 50% capacity—will operate under fresh guidelines yet to be issued. For swimming pools and exhibition halls, fresh guidelines will be issued. The government may decide to further relax international air travel guidelines.
Under national directives, face masks are mandatory in public places, workplaces, and during transport. Individuals must maintain "adequate" distance in public. Shops shall ensure physical distancing among customers. Spitting in public places will attract fines.
The guideline on following work from home as much as possible has been removed. Work/business hours in offices, workplaces, shops, markets, and industrial/commercial establishments should be staggered. Provisions for thermal screening, hand-wash/sanitizer shall be made available at all entry/exit points and common areas. Workplaces, common places, and all common points of contact shall be frequently sanitized. Social distancing must be followed at the workplace.
Vulnerable groups such as persons above the age of 65, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10, are advised to take necessary precautions. There shall be no restriction on interstate/intrastate movement of persons and goods including those for cross-land-border trade under treaties with neighboring countries. No separate permission/approval/e-permit will be required for such movement.
Workplaces shall continue to ensure that the Aarogya Setu app is installed by all employees on a "best effort basis." District Magistrates shall strictly enforce these measures. State/UT governments may use provisions under CrPC Section 144 to enforce social distancing. State/UT governments must promote COVID-19 appropriate behavior, and ensure the wearing of face masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing.