India Re-opening guidelines out

A vendor attends customers at Chowk Bazar during Unlock 4.0 in Bhopal. Courtesy: PTI

October will be crucial because of Durga Puja and the first phase of Bihar Assembly Election 2020. The Centre’s focus would be more on reopening adhering to social-distancing norms

The ministry of home affairs has announced a detailed guideline for Unlock 5, or for reopening to be effective from October 1, shortly. Despite a steep rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country, the home ministry has made it clear that there would be more relaxations and fewer restrictions, though local administrations in some states are heavily relying on voluntary curfew, local lockdowns etc.

Here are the guidelines:

* Cinemas/ theatres/ multiplexes will be permitted to open with upto 50% of their seating capacity, for which, SOP will be issued by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

* Business to Business (B2B) Exhibitions will be permitted to open, for which, SOP will be issued by the Department of Commerce.

* Swimming pools being used for training of sportspersons will be permitted to open, for which the standard operating procedure (SOP) will be issued by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MoYA&S).

* Entertainment parks and similar places will be permitted to open, for which the SOP will be issued by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW).

Opening of Schools, colleges, education institutions and coaching institutions

* For re-opening of schools and coaching institutions, State/ UT Governments have been given the flexibility to take a decision after October 15, 2020, in a graded manner. The decision shall be taken in consultation with the respective school/ institution management, based on their assessment of the situation, and subject to the following conditions:

* Online/ distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged.

* Where schools are conducting online classes, and some students prefer to attend online classes rather than physically attend school, they may be permitted 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 SOP regarding health and safety precautions for reopening of schools/ institutions based on the SOP to be issued by Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education, Government of India, keeping local requirements in view.

* Schools, which are allowed to open, will have to mandatorily follow the SOP to be issued by Education Departments of States/ UTs.

* Department of Higher Education (DHE), Ministry of Education may take a decision on the timing of the opening of Colleges/ Higher Education Institutions, in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), based on the assessment of the situation. Online/ distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged.

Unlock 5.0 is likely to become the most crucial as a number of religious festivals are scheduled in October, including Durga Puja. The first phase of Bihar Assembly Election 2020 is scheduled on October 28. The Centre is likely to revise its order pertaining to the maximum number of people who can gather at a place.

The phase-wise unlocking began in June with only a few essential activities beginning outside the containment zones. Over the last four months, offices, public transport including metro, domestic flights, religious places, restaurants, hotels, gyms, schools and colleges have been allowed to resume activities, though the state governments concerned are the final authorities.

Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have extended lockdown till October 31.

Source: Hindustan Times