The process of COVID-19 lockdown is all but over. The Government of India's latest guidelines, called reopening guidelines, have allowed cinemas, swimming pools and even schools to function from October 15 with some restrictions. With this almost all sectors which were shut in March this have been allowed to open by the government.
Also, state governments and UT administrations can now allow schools to function from October 15, without making attendance compulsory. “For re-opening of schools and coaching institutions, State/ UT Governments have been given the flexibility to take a decision after 15th October. Attendance must not be enforced, and must depend entirely on parental consent," the order issued by Ministry of Home Affairs said.
It added that the option of online classes must be given to those students who do not wish to attend school yet. Last month, the MHA had allowed students from classes 9 to 12 to come to school on voluntary basis if they wanted to clarify any doubts.
The latest guidelines have also allowed cinema halls to open with 50% seating capacity from October 15. Further standard operating procedures (SOPs) in this regard will be issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Entertainment parks and business-to-business exhibitions have also been permitted to reopen. Swimming pools for training of sportspersons can also operate from the same time.
Significantly, MHA has lifted the 100-people-only restriction on gatherings, just ahead of campaigning for Bihar polls.
The notification states, "Social/ academic/sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious/ political functions and other congregations have already been permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons, outside Containment Zones only. Now state/UT governments have been given the flexibility to permit such gatherings beyond the limit of 100 persons, outside Containment Zones, after 15th October 2020, which will be subject to the following conditions:
In closed spaces, a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity will be allowed, with a ceiling of 200 persons.
In open spaces 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."
International travel is the only category which continues to be restricted in the reopening guidelines. Train travel will also continue to be regulated as per the existing SOP. States have been asked not to prevent people from crossing intra or inter-state borders or issue lockdown guidelines.