Centre releases guidelines before opening of malls, restaurants, religious places
Malls, restaurants, hotels, and religious places will be re-opened from Monday (June 8), more than two months after they were shut to curtail coronavirus' transmission. But before they resume operations, the Centre has released a new set of rules, underlining that restaurants and food courts will operate with 50% seating capacity. In religious places, no prasad will be offered. Here are more details.
Since March 25, India remained under one of the harshest lockdowns of the globe, which had a crushing effect on the economy. Three extensions later, the unlocking phase began on June 1, where a number of relaxations were given in non-containment zones. To recall, in Lockdown 4.0, the government restarted select domestic flight operations. Meanwhile, the coronavirus-linked deaths in India have reached 6,351.
The Union Health Ministry on Thursday released standard operating procedures (SOPs), explaining the rules which citizens have to follow. The basics like mandatory masks, thermal screening at the entry, and maintaining social distancing featured in the guidelines. People above 65 years, those with comorbidities, kids aged below 10, and pregnant women were advised to stay home by the federal government.
Eating out will change forever, the guidelines confirm. All restaurants/ food courts were asked to maintain a minimum of six feet distance between tables, promote handwashing (for at least 40-60 seconds) even if hands don't seem dirty, and use alcohol-based sanitizers regularly. Respiratory etiquette like covering one's mouth while sneezing, coughing was also recommended. The used tissues or handkerchiefs must be disposed of safely.
Restaurants owners have been asked to encourage takeaways. The staff delivering food at homes must be screened and posters/standees/AV media detailing the preventive measures against coronavirus must be installed at prominent places Disposable menus were advised by the Centre. The cloth napkins must be replaced with good quality disposable paper napkins. During buffet services too, patrons must follow social distancing, the guidelines said.
About malls, the government said customers must only be allowed if they are wearing masks. They will have to cover their mouths at all times. A distance of six feet must be maintained during entry. The same rule must be followed in shops inside the malls. Number of people using elevators must be limited. One step was encouraged to be left vacant in escalators.
Surfaces like doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, benches, and washroom fixtures, which are frequently touched, must be cleaned regularly. Toilets must also be cleaned thoroughly. For air-conditioning and ventilation, guidelines of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), which entails setting the AC temperature between 24 and 30 degree Celsius, must be followed. Relative humidity must be in the 40-70% range, and cross ventilation must be appropriate.
The government didn't allow gaming arcades, cinema halls, and children playing areas inside malls to restart operations. About valet parking, the government said the operating staff must wear masks and gloves. Separately, the guidelines related to hotels said that guests must give details of their travel history and health conditions at the reception itself. The staff working at the kitchen must follow social distancing.
At religious places, separate entry and exit gates must be installed. "No physical offerings like prasad or distribution or sprinkling of holy water, etc. will be allowed inside the religious place," the Centre said. Further, touching idols and singing were prohibited. Devotees were asked to bring their own mats, and wash feet/hands with soap and water before entering. Kitchens must practise social distancing.