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“Cinema theatres and swimming pools to be open for all” ; MHA issues new guidelines

New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday permitted cinema halls and theatres to function with more people while swimming pools have been allowed for usage by all in recent COVID-19 reopening guidelines. According to this latest order, to be valid from 1 February, there shall be no constraint on inter-state and intra-state transportation of people and goods including those for cross-land-border commerce under agreements with bordering nations.

No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be needed for such actions. All movements have been allowed outside containment regions, but a few will be directed to strict fidelity to SOPs.Social, religious, sports, entertainment, educational, cultural, religious gatherings have now been allowed up to a maximum of 50 percent of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 people in covered spaces; and keeping of the size of the ground or space in the opening, in open spaces.

“Now such gatherings will be allowed subject to SOP of the state and UT concerned. Cinema halls and theatres have already been permitted up to 50 percent of seating capacity. Now they will be permitted to operate at higher seating capacity, for which a revised SOP will be issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in consultation with MHA,” the guidelines said.

Swimming pools have now been allowed for use of sportspersons. Now, these will be permitted for convenience of all, for which a revised SOP will be declared by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in discussion with MHA. Business to Business exhibition halls has already been allowed. Now all sorts of exhibition halls will be permitted, for which an updated SOP will be declared by the Department of Commerce in discussion with MHA. The major focus of the guidelines is to combine the substantial earnings that have been obtained against the spread of COVID-19 which is visible in the steady decline in the number of active and new cases in the nation over the last four months.

“It is, therefore, emphasized that to fully overcome the pandemic, there is a need to maintain caution and to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy focussed on surveillance, containment and strict observance of the guidelines and SOPs issued by MHA and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW),” the guidelines said. Containment zones, if needed, shall be carefully distinguished by the district officials at the micro-level, carrying into attention guidelines directed by the MoHFW in this concern. Within the demarcated containment regions, containment measures, as ordered by MoHFW shall be carefully observed.

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Local district, police, and municipal officials shall be effective to guarantee that the designated containment standards are rigorously obeyed and state and Union Territory governments shall assure the responsibility of the officers involved in this concern. The MHA stated that state and Union Territory governments shall take all required steps to improve COVID-19 proper form and guarantee the wearing of face masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing. The National Directives for COVID-19 Management shall extend to be observed during the country, to drive COVID-19 appropriate response. For additional opening up of international air travel of passengers, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) may take a judgment in discussion with MHA based on the evaluation of the condition.

The SOPs, as renewed from time to time, have been appointed for different actions. These involve action by passenger trains; air travel; metro trains; schools; higher educational institutions; hotels and restaurants; shopping malls, multiplexes, and entertainment parks; yoga centers and gymnasiums, etc. These SOPs shall be rigidly imposed by the officials involved, who shall be effective for their severe practice, the guidelines said.

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