THE Central Government on Saturday issued new guidelines for phased re-opening of areas outside the Containment Zones. However, the lockdown in the containment zones to remain in force till June 30.
Only a limited number of activities will remain prohibited throughout the country. These activities are: International air travel of passengers; operation of Metro Rail; cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations.
States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain activities outside the Containment zones, or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary.
According to the latest order signed by the Union Home Secretary, all activities that were prohibited earlier would be opened up in areas outside Containment Zones in a phased manner, with the stipulation of following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), to be prescribed by the Health Ministry.
In Phase I, religious places and places of worship for the public; hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services; and shopping malls; will be permitted to open from June 8, 2020. In this regard, the Health Ministry will issue SOPs for these activities, in consultation with the Central Ministries/ Departments concerned and other stakeholders, for ensuring social distancing and to contain the spread of COVID-19.
In Phase II, schools, colleges, educational/ training/ coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and UTs. State Governments/ UT administrations are being advised to hold consultations at the institution level with parents and other stakeholders. Based on the feedback, a decision on the re-opening of these institutions will be taken in the month of July, 2020. MoHFW will prepare SOP for these institutions.
In Phase III, dates for their opening will be decided based on the assessment of the situation.
Latest guidelines also say that there should be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements. However, if a State/ UT, based on reasons of public health and its assessment of the situation, proposes to regulate the movement of persons, it will give wide publicity in advance regarding the restrictions to be placed on such movement, and the related procedures to be followed.
Further, night Curfew shall continue to remain in force, on the movement of individuals, for all non-essential activities. However, the revised timings of the curfew will be from 9 pm to 5 am.
In addition, the National Directives for COVID-19 management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, with a view to ensure social distancing.
Further, the guidelines say that vulnerable persons, i.e., 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.
On the issue of Aarogya Setu mobile application, MHA says that it is a powerful tool built by Government of India to facilitate quick identification of persons infected by COVID-19, or at risk of being infected, thus acting as a shield for individuals and the community. It has, therefore, advised authorities to encourage the use of the application.