Unlock 4.0: Metro rail services to resume from September 7
The Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday unveiled the guidelines for the fourth phase of unlocking from the coronavirus lockdown: 'Unlock 4.0'. In a major relief, the central government has allowed metro rail services to resume in a graded manner, eased restrictions on public gatherings, and barred states and union territories from imposing local lockdowns without consultation from the Centre. Here are more details.
Metro services to resume in graded manner from September 7
The Centre has allowed the operations of Metro rail services from September 7 in a graded manner. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the same will be issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA). Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theaters, and similar places will remain closed. However, open-air theaters will be allowed from September 20.
Restrictions outside containment zones
Schools, colleges, educational, and coaching institutions will continue to remain closed for students and regular class activity till September 30. The Centre encouraged online and distance learning. States/UTs may allow up to 50% of teaching and non-teaching staff to report to schools for online teaching/tele-counseling and related work outside containment zones from September 21. SOPs will be issued by the Health Ministry.
Restrictions outside containment zones
Students of Classes IX-XII may visit schools on a voluntary basis from September 21 for taking guidance from their teachers. This will be subject to the written consent of parents/guardians. SOPs for the same will be issued by the Health Ministry. Higher Education Institutions are exempt, albeit only for research scholars (Ph.D.) and post-graduate students of technical and professional programs requiring laboratory/experimental works.
States barred from imposing local lockdowns without Centre's nod
State/UT governments shall not impose any local lockdown (State/district/sub-division/city/village level), outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the central government. International air travel remains prohibited, except as permitted by the Home Ministry. There shall be no restriction on interstate and intrastate movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighboring countries.
Following activities to operate under SOPs previously issued
"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.
Gatherings allowed with up to 100 persons from September 21
Social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions, and other congregations have been allowed with up to 100 persons from September 21. However, face masks, social distancing, and provisions for thermal screening and hand sanitizers remain mandatory. Till September 20, only marriage gatherings are allowed with up to 50 guests and funeral/last rites gatherings with up to 20 guests.
Face masks remain compulsory; six-feet distancing to be ensured
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. However, the ban imposed on public consumption of paan, gutka, tobacco, etc., has been removed from the Unlock guidelines.
Here are the guidelines for workplaces
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 advised to stay home
Workplaces shall continue to ensure that the Aarogya Setu app is installed by all employees having compatible phones on a "best effort basis." 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. State/UT governments shall not dilute these guidelines.