Unlock 5.0: Cinema halls to reopen from October-15, and more
The Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday issued fresh guidelines for reopening of more activities as India emerges from the coronavirus lockdown. Under the guidelines, the government has allowed the reopening of cinema halls, entertainment parks, swimming pools, etc. The lockdown was first imposed in late-March and since June, India has been resuming day-to-day activities in a phased manner. Here are more details.
Cinemas/theaters/multiplexes will be permitted to open with up to 50% of their seating capacity from October 15. Relevant SOP (standard operating procedure) will be issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. Swimming pools being used for training of sportspersons will be permitted to open from October 15. The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MoYA&S) will issue SOPs in this regard.
Entertainment parks and similar places will be permitted to open from October 15, for which, SOPs will be issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. Business-to-Business (B2B) exhibitions will be permitted to open from October 15. The Commerce Ministry will issue relevant SOPs.
States/union territories have been allowed to take a decision on the reopening of schools and coaching institutions after October 15 in a graded manner. A decision must be taken in consultation with the respective school/institution management, and certain conditions are to be followed, the guidelines stated. The conditions are that online/distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching.
Further, students may continue to attend online classes, if they prefer to do so. Students may attend schools/institutions only with the written consent of parents. Attendance must not be enforced and must depend entirely on parental consent. States/UTs will prepare their own SOPs in this regard, which would have to be followed mandatorily by schools that reopen.
The Department of Higher Education, Education Ministry, may take a decision on the reopening of colleges/higher education institutions in consultation with the Home Ministry. Online/distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching. Higher education institutions with Ph.D. scholars and post-graduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/experimental works will be permitted to reopen from October 15 under certain conditions.
For centrally-funded higher education institutions, the institution's head will satisfy themselves that there is a genuine requirement of research scholars and postgraduate students to continue laboratory/experimental works. Other higher education institutions may reopen only for research scholars (Ph.D.) and postgraduate students in the science and technology stream requiring laboratory/experimental works as per decision to be taken by the respective State/UT governments.
Social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions, and other congregations outside containment zones have been allowed with up to 200 persons from October 15. Wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitizer will be mandatory. In open spaces as well, wearing masks, provisions for thermal scanning, hand wash/sanitizer will remain mandatory.
Outside the containment zones all other activities will be permitted. International air travel of passengers will also continue to be restricted, except as permitted by the Home Ministry. Inside containment zones, the lockdown shall remain enforced until October 31.
Containment zones will now be demarcated by district authorities at the "micro-level," in line with the Health Ministry's guidelines. Strict containment will be enforced in these containment zones and only essential activities will be allowed. There shall be no movement of people in/out of these zones, except for medical emergencies and maintaining the supply of essential goods/services.
Under national directives, face masks are mandatory in public places, workplaces, and during transport. Individuals must maintain at least a six feet distance in public. Shops shall ensure physical distancing among customers. Spitting in public places will be fined.
Work from home should be followed as much as possible. Work/business hours in offices, workplaces, shops, markets, and industrial/commercial establishments should be staggered. Provisions for thermal screening, hand-wash, and sanitizer shall be made available at all entry/exit points and common areas. Workplaces, common places, and all points that come in human 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 stay at home, except for essential and health purposes.
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. Workplaces shall continue to ensure that Aarogya Setu app is installed by all employees on a "best effort basis." State/UT governments shall not dilute these guidelines. However, they may use provisions under CrPC Section 144 to enforce social distancing.
"Movement by passenger trains; domestic passenger air travel; movement of persons on Vande Bharat and Air Transport Bubble flights; and sign-on/sign-off of Indian seafarers will continue to be regulated as per SOPs issued," the guidelines stated.