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Unlock 5.0: Cinemas to reopen, states to decide on schools

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday announced a fresh set of relaxations in the nationwide lockdown, which was imposed on March 24 to curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus. 

This is the fifth set of the unlock guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The Unlock 5.0 guidelines are likely to come into effect from October 1.

Cinemas allowed to reopen from October 15

The MHA guidelines for Unlock 5.0 have allowed cinemas, theatres and multiplexes outside the containment zones to reopen with up to 50 per cent of their seating capacity from October 15. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting will issue an SOP in this regard.

Apart from movie halls, the Center has also allowed the reopening of swimming pools that are being used for the training of sportspersons. Business to Business (B2B) exhibitions will be permitted to reopen from October 15.

The MHA guidelines for Unlock 5.0 also allow entertainment parks and similar places to open for the public from October 15.

"The new guidelines, issued today, are based on feedback received from States and UTs, and extensive consultations held with related central ministries and departments," a statement from the Union home ministry said on Wednesday.

States allowed to reopen schools after October 15

The Centre has given state/UT governments the flexibility to take a decision on reopening schools and coaching institutions in a graded manner after October 15.

"The decision shall be taken in consultation with the respective school/institution management, based on their assessment of the situation," the MHA guidelines said.

However, 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, the MHA guideline said.

Students may attend schools/institutions only with the written consent of parents, it said.

Schools will not be allowed to enforce attendance. Schools, which are allowed to open, will have to mandatorily follow the SOP to be issued by Education Departments of States/ UTs.

Higher education institutions only for research scholars (PhD) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream that require laboratory/experimental works have been permitted to open from October 15.

Regulation of gatherings

The Unlock 5.0 guidelines provides states the flexibility to relax the limit of 100 persons at social/ academic/ sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious/ political functions outside the containment zones.

The states can allow an increased number of people to attend a public gathering from October 15. The decision comes before the onset of Dushera, Diwali and Durga puja festivities across India.

However, in a closed space a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity will be allowed, with a ceiling of 200 persons.

Wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitizer will be mandatory.

In open spaces, gatherings shall be allowed keeping the size of the ground/space in view, and with strict observance of social distancing, mandatory wearing of face masks, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitiser.

To ensure that such gatherings do not spread Covid-19, the state/UT governments have been directed to issue detailed SOPs to regulate such gatherings.

International air travel continues to be banned, except as permitted by the MHA.

Containment zones

Lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the containment zones till October 31. The containment zones shall be demarcated by the district authorities at micro-level after taking into consideration the guidelines of MoHFW with the objective of effectively breaking the chain of transmission, the MHA statement said.

Strict containment measures will be enforced in these containment zones and only essential activities will be allowed, it said.

Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and only essential activities allowed.

States not to impose any local lockdown outside containment zones

The MHA has forbidden the state/UT governments from imposing any local lockdown outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the central government.

The states can also not impose any restrictions on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements, the MHA said.

National directives for Covid-19 management

National directives for Covid-19 management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, with a view to ensure social distancing. Shops will need to maintain adequate physical distancing among customers. The MHA will monitor the effective implementation of the national directives.

Protection for vulnerable persons

Vulnerable persons, ie, persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, are advised to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.

Use of Aarogya Setu

The use of Aarogya Setu mobile application will continue to be encouraged.

The fresh unlock guidelines come on a day India's Covid-19 tally crossed 62-lakh mark with a spike of 80,472 new cases in the last 24 hours. According to the data published on the Union health ministry portal, total cases of coronavirus in India stand at 62,25,764 including 9,40,441 active cases, 51,87,826 cured/discharged/migrated and 97,497 death.

In the Unlock 4.0 guidelines, the MHA had allowed the metro rail services to resume and allowed state governments to draft rules for optional classes for senior secondary school students.

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PTI