Swimming pools for all, more seating in cinemas: MHA issues new Covid guidelines

at 7:48 pm

New Delhi (NVI): The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today issued new Covid-19 guidelines for surveillance, containment and caution across states and union territories in the country, which will remain in effect from February 1 to 28.

Under the major highlights of the fresh guidelines, swimming pools will be allowed for all and cinema halls will be permitted to operate at higher capacity.

In its order today, the Home Ministry said that the main focus of the guidelines is to consolidate the substantial gains that have been achieved against the spread of COVID-19 “which is visible in the steady decline in the number of active and new cases in the country over the last four months”.

“It is, therefore, emphasised that to fully overcome the pandemic, there is need to maintain caution and to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy focussed on surveillance, containment and strict observance of the guidelines/ SOPs issued by MHA and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW),” the Ministry said in a statement.

As per the guidelines, cinema halls and theatres have already been permitted upto 50% of seating capacity. Now they will be permitted to operate at higher seating capacity, for which a revised SOP will be issued by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in consultation with MHA.

Apart from that, swimming pools have already been permitted for use of sportspersons. Now swimming pools will be permitted for use of all, for which a revised SOP will be issued by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MoYA&S) in consultation with MHA, the Ministry said.

Regarding containment zones, if required, they shall be carefully demarcated by the district authorities at the micro level, taking into consideration guidelines prescribed by the Health Ministry in this regard. Within the demarcated containment zones, containment measures, as prescribed by MoHFW shall be scrupulously followed, stated the guidelines.

“Local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed containment measures are strictly followed and State/UT Governments shall ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard,” the Ministry said.

All state/UT governments have been asked to take all necssary measures to promote COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and ensure wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing. “National Directives for COVID-19 Management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, so as to enforce COVID-19 appropriate behavior,” MHA said.

Among other revised guidelines, now social, religious, sports, entertainment, educational, cultural, religious gatherings will be allowed subject to SOP of the State/UT concerned.

Such gatherings have already been permitted upto a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces; and keeping of the size of the ground/space in view, in open spaces, the Ministry stated.

In addition to this, now all types of exhibition halls will be permitted, for which a revised SOP will be issued by the Department of Commerce in consultation with MHA. Business to Business (B2B) exhibition halls have already been permitted.

For further opening up of international air travel of passengers, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) may take a decision in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) based on the assessment of the situation.

SOPs, as updated from time to time, have been prescribed for various activities. These include: movement by passenger trains; air travel; metro trains; schools; higher educational institutions; hotels and restaurants; shopping malls, multiplexes and entertainment parks; yoga centres and gymnasiums, etc. These SOPs shall be strictly enforced by the authorities concerned, who shall be responsible for their strict observance, MHA said in its order.

There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/approval/e-permit will be required for such movements, it said.

Persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years are advised to take necessary precautions. The use of Aarogya Setu mobile App will continue to be encouraged, as per the Ministry.