The Government of India has issued new re-opening guidelines, as per which cinema halls/multiplexes and swimming pools used for training of sportspersons and entertainment parks will be allowed to re-open from October 15, 2020.
Under the new guidelines, the centre has given the states the flexibility to take a decision after October 15 for re-opening of schools. However, parental consent will be required for the same. The new guidelines have been issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
Which activities will be allowed?
All activities will be permitted outside containment zones, except:
1. State/ UTs may take a decision on re-opening of schools and coaching institutions after October 15 in a graded manner. The decision will have to be taken in consultation with respective school or institution management, based on their assessment of the situation. This will be subject to following conditions:
a) Online/ distance learning will continue to be the preferred mode of teaching.
b) Where schools are conducting online classes, some students may prefer to continue to attend online classes rather than physically attend school. They may be allowed to do so.
c) Students will only attend schools and other educational institutions in person if they have a written consent from parents.
d) Attendance will not be enforced on students and must depend entirely on parental consent.
e) States/ UTs may prepare their own Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) regarding the safety precautions to be taken for re-opening of schools/ institutions based on the SOPs, which will be issued by the Department of School Education and Literacy under Ministry of Education.
f) Schools that will be allowed to reopen will have to follow SOPs issued by the Education Departments.
2. Ministry of Education will take a decision on the timing of the opening of Colleges and Higher Education Institutions in consultation with the Home Ministry, based on the assessment of the situation.
– Online distance learning will continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged.
The Higher Education Institutions only for research scholars (Ph.D) and post graduate students in science and technology stream requiring lab work will be allowed to open from October 15.
3. Swimming Pools- The swimming pools used for training of sportspersons have been allowed to reopen with effect from October 15th.
4. Cinema Halls – Cinema halls, theatres and multiplexes will be allowed to reopen with up to 50 percent of their seating capacity in areas outside containment zones with effect from October 15. The SOPs for the same will be issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
5. Entertainment Parks: Entertainment parks and similar places will be allowed to reopen with effect from October 15, 2020. The SOPs for the same will be issued by the Health Ministry.
6. B2B Exhibitions (Business to Business Exhibitions) will be allowed to open in areas outside containment zones only from October 15. The SOPs for the same will be issued by the Commerce Ministry.
7. Social/ Religious/ Cultural/ Academic/ Sports/ Political/ Entertainment functions and gatherings will be allowed with a maximum limit of 100 people outside containment zones only. Such gatherings beyond the limit of 100 people may be allowed by the states/ UTs after October 15, 2020 subject to following conditions:
(i) In closed space, 50 percent of the hall capacity will be allowed with a maximum limit of 200 people and wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing will be mandatory. The provision of thermal scanning, use of hand wash and sanitizer will also be mandatory.
(ii) In open spaces, keeping the size of the ground in view, gatherings may be allowed with strict observance of social distancing and mandatory wearing of masks. The provision of thermal scanning, use of hand wash or sanitiser will also be mandatory.
The states and UT government will be issuing detailed SOPs to regulate such gatherings.
8. International Air Travel of passengers will continue to be restricted, except as permitted by the Home Ministry.
The Home Ministry has gradually eased several restrictions in different phases of ‘Unlock’ since June 2020. In the previous month, the Home Ministry had said that more relaxations and opening up of more activities would be gradually allowed in areas outside the containment zones to assist economic recovery.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a recent virtual meeting with the Chief Ministers of seven of the worst-hit states had questioned the impact of 1-2 days local lockdowns and curfews and instead stressed upon the need to implement “micro-containment” zones.
PM Modi had urged the states to reassess whether lockdowns were helping top curb the spread of the coronavirus. He emphasised on increasing effective testing, treating and surveillance, and clear messaging. He had directed the states to avoid local lockdowns, as the 1-2 day lockdowns in various states in July and August were seen to be hurting the economy and disrupting the supply chain and not serving their purpose of containing COVID-19 infections.
The Prime Minister had stated “micro containment zones” should be the way forward as it will curb the infection spread and also allow activities to go on. This indicates that the government plans to continue its effort to reopen the economy while battling COVID-19 to boost economic recovery, which has been slow so far.