Unlock 5.0: Relaxations for tourism sector, cinema halls reopening likely
As the fourth phase of "unlocking" from the coronavirus lockdown nears its end, India awaits the central guidelines for 'Unlock 5.0'. The fourth phase witnessed major relaxations, such as the resumption of Metro services and the partial reopening of school for Classes IX-XII. Ahead of the festive season in October, here's what the Unlock 5.0 guidelines may have in store.
Although the government has allowed malls, salons, restaurants, and gyms to open with restrictions, cinema halls, swimming pools, and entertainment parks remain closed. With the festive season around the corner, the Centre is expected to allow more economic activities. During last week's meeting with Chief Ministers of seven states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested the implementation of "micro-containment" zones to better contain outbreaks.
Despite the appeals of the Multiplex Association of India, the government has kept cinema halls shut, only allowing open-air theaters to reopen from September 21. However, on Saturday, West Bengal became the first state to allow theaters and cinema halls to open from October 1 with a limited number of people, hinting that the same may be allowed in other states.
Notably, in August, Information and Broadcasting Ministry Secretary Amit Khare had suggested a seating arrangement formula for cinema halls to the Home Ministry. As per this plan, alternate seats in a row and the next are to remain vacant.
Understandably, the tourism industry has been severely hit by the lockdown. Unlock 5.0 may see some relaxation for the sector. On September 21, the Taj Mahal in Agra opened for tourists, while Sikkim has allowed hotels, home-stays, and other tourism-related services to resume from October 10. The state will also open its border with West Bengal for unrestricted movement of vehicles from October 1.
Further, the modalities of the reopening of Kerala tourism were discussed at a recent meeting between the Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) representatives. Separately, Uttarakhand has eased COVID-19-related restrictions for tourists.
Several schools reopened from September 21 for students of Classes IX-XII on a voluntary basis. The phased reopening is expected to continue in the fifth phase of Unlock. However, primary classes will reportedly continue to remain closed for a few more weeks. Meanwhile, universities and colleges have already started admission tests and the new academic year may begin via online classes.