Unlock 5: Cinema halls, entertainment parks, swimming pools and schools to reopen today
While theatres and multiplexes will remain closed in states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Chhattisgarh, they will open this week in several places, including Delhi and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, with stringent dos and don'ts.
Cinema halls, entertainment parks, schools and colleges outside containment zones in some states will restart on Thursday in keeping with the Centre's Unlock 5.0 guidelines.
However, Maharashtra and West Bengal have decided against the reopening of schools in light of the prevailing COVID-19 situation.
As per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on 30 September, cinemas/ theatres/ multiplexes have been permitted to open with up to 50 percent of their seating capacity from 15 October.
States and Union Territories (UTs) have been given the flexibility to decide on the re-opening schools and coaching institutions after 15 October, in a graded manner.
Earlier, under Unlock 4, students of classes 9 to 12 had been allowed to visit schools (outside containment zones) to get their doubts clarified, with written permission from their parents.
While theatres and multiplexes will remain closed in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Chhattisgarh, they will open this week in several places, including Delhi and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, with stringent dos and don'ts.
PVR Cinemas, India's largest film exhibitor told news agency PTI that 10 states and four Union Territories have given their go-ahead for the reopening of cinemas.
Cinema halls in the northeastern states will remain shut as the state governments have not issued guidelines in this regard. The Chhattisgarh government has not yet taken a call, while Goa has decided to keep theatres shut till new movies are released.
In Gujarat, though the state government has given the go-ahead, multiplex and cinema owners have not been able to reach an agreement with distributors on re-running old films and hence they are likely to resume from Saturday, reported PTI.
As per the SOPs issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for the reopening of cinemas and multiplexes, six feet distance will have to be maintained at all times, no food will be delivered inside the halls and only packaged food will be allowed.
Other measures include mandatory use of face masks, thermal screening at the entry and hand sanitiser at various points. One seat distance will have to be maintained to be left vacant to ensure social distancing will have to be specifically marked as such.
Specific temperatures have also been specified for air-conditioned halls and exit will have to be done in a staggered, row-wise manner. Show timings will also be staggered, and contact numbers of visitors will be taken to facilitate contact tracing later, if required. Digital transactions will be preferred.
Some states have decided not to open schools, with Andhra Pradesh stating that schools will not begin functioning till 2 November and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee stating that a call will be taken only in mid-November.
Maharashtra too has said that schools won't start in October while Gujarat has said that it will consider reopening schools after Diwali. Delhi too decided to keep schools shut till 31 October.
Punjab has allowed schools to reopen for classes 9-12, subject to parental consent and without making attendance compulsory. Schools in the state will have to follow SOPs by the School Education Department.
Higher educational institutions only for research scholars and post-graduate students in science and technology streams laboratory work are also permitted to open after 15 October.
In Uttar Pradesh, students from classes 9 to 12 will be allowed to attend schools outside containment zones from 19 October. Written permission from parents or guardians will be mandatory and classes will be held in two shifts — classes for 9 and 10 standards in the first shift and classes for 11 and 12 standards in the second.
Deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma also said that 50 percent of the students should be called in every class on one day and the remaining 50 percent the next day. SOPs have been issued for the schools.
According to The Times of India, Puducherry allowed resumption of classes for students of standards 10 and 12 from 5 October and for standards 9 and 11 from 8 October. Classes for each standard will be held three days a week and attendance in not compuslory.
The education ministry has released guidelines for schools, including for thorough cleaning and disinfection of the premises, flexibility in attendance, no assessment for up to three weeks, and ensuring a smooth transition from home-based schooling during the coronavirus -induced lockdown to formal schooling.
It also asked the states and Union territories to frame their own standard operating procedures (SOPs) for health and safety precautions, based on their local requirements.
Punjab and Puducherry have allowed higher education institutions to open only for research scholars and post-graduate students of specific streams.
The health ministry has issued detailed guidelines for entertainment parks, according to which commonly touched surfaces of rides will have to be sanitised and social distancing will have to be maintained at all times.
Additionally, swimming pools in such parks will remain closed but water parks and those with water rides shall ensure regular and adequate filtration and chlorination of water. Besides, planning should be done especially for peak days. Online booking should be encouraged and visitors should maintain six feet distance at physical booking counters.
Natural ventilation must be encouraged and use of enclosed spaces has to be avoided. The ministry has also advised the use of CCTVs to monitor crowding.
However, the Maharashtra government has decided not to allow swimming pools, entertainment parks and similar establishment to open.
The Centre has allowed swimming pools in areas outside containment zones only for the training of sportspersons from Thursday. The sports ministry has issued guidelines stipulating the number of swimmers allowed per batch, depending on the size of the pool.
It has defined competitive swimmers as those above the age of 12 and those not engaged in contact sports like water polo. All such sportspersons will have to provide a self-declaration of being COVID-free, while residential trainees will have to submit a mandatory coronavirus negative report
Only minimal staff required for training should be allowed. Towels, soaps and other utilities must not be shared. Each training centre will have a COVID-19 task force to guide and monitor all trainees, coaches and staff.
The Centre has also allowed social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions and other congregations with a ceiling of 100 persons from Thursday, It has given the flexibility states/UTs to permit gatherings beyond the limit of 100 persons, outside containment zones.
Such gatherings have not been permitted in Maharashtra. Kerala too, has banned gatherings over more than five peeople in view of the surge in cases, as per an Indian Express report.
However, in view of the upcoming elections in Bihar and bypolls in some states, the Union government had on 8 October said that states may permit political gathering with certain conditions before 15 October.
India's COVID-19 caseload rose to 72,39,389 on Wednesday with63,509 fresh infections while the toll mounted to 1,10,586 with 730 deaths.
With inputs from PTI
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