The central government announced fresh guidelines as part of the Unlock 4.0, which enlists opening up of various economic activities and facilities that have been shut since the beginning of the nation-wide lockdown.
This step-by-step opening up post-coronavirus lockdown is set to see major relaxations in Unlock 4.0, which were unveiled on Saturday.
According to the guidelines, metro rail services will be allowed to operate from September 7 onwards in a graded manner, while larger gatherings such as social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions and other congregations will be permitted with a ceiling of 100 people only, from September 21 onwards.
The guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs interestingly mentions that states can no longer impose lockdowns outside containment zones without the Centre’s permission and must not seal borders. Also, there will be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods. This means, no separate permission or approval, e-permit will be required for such movements.
This comes after states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar frequently imposed lockdowns and restrictions on intra and inter-state travel, resulting in “impairing supply chains and adversely affecting efforts to revive the economy,” according to the MHA.
The center in a statement said, “The new guidelines, issued today, are based on feedback received from States and UTs, and extensive consultations held with related Central Ministries and Departments.”
Furthermore, educational institutions – schools, colleges, and coaching institutions – are to remain closed till September end, however, state’s and UT’s may permit 50% teaching and non-teaching staff to report to school for online teaching or any other related work.
Also, students of classes 9-12 may be permitted to visit schools – provided they are from areas outside containment zones – only on a “voluntary basis” for taking any necessary guidance required from their teachers. This will be subject to the written consent of their parents/guardians. subject to the written consent of their parents/ guardians.
In higher education, the guidelines say, institutions can be opened “only for research scholars (Ph.D.) and post-graduate students of technical and professional programs requiring laboratory/experimental works”.
However, the only activities expressly prohibited under the new guidelines are opening of cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, and similar places with a high risk of spread of the virus. Open-air theatres are although permitted to open from September 21.
International air travel of passengers, except as permitted by the MHA, and train services will remain restricted.
All activities will be allowed outside containment zones which were earlier permitted by the authorities in the earlier guidelines such as shopping malls, barbershops, etc.
This comes at a time when the country has been witnessing record-breaking daily numbers of over 70,000 coronavirus cases daily, making it the country to record the largest number of daily cases in the world. According to reports, India will overtake Brazil soon, making it the second most affected country after the United States.