A nationwide lockdown was announced by the Union Government in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak in Indian on the intervening night of March 24-25. The lockdown was continued in four phases, following which the Government decided to ease the restrictions gradually with Unlock 1.0, except in containment zones. According to the latest guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), malls, restaurants, and places of worship would open from June 8 onwards.
The concerned authorities had been directed to sanitise premises, ensure social distancing and mandatory wearing of masks. Cinema halls, gaming arcades, and hotels have been ordered to remain non-operational.
Guidelines for malls and restaurants
According to MHA directives, restaurants and malls must screen home-delivery staff and encourage takeaways instead of dining-in. Restaurants can only allow asymptomatic diners and staff within their premises. Moreover, thermal screening is mandatory at the entrance of both malls and restaurants. As per guidelines, staff and patrons alike must wear masks and adhere to social distancing within the premises. Besides, the management is obliged to manage crowds not just inside the dining area but only in parking areas and outside the restaurant. It has also been recommended to ensure separate entry and exit points for patrons and staff.
The shoppers are required to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet when queuing up for entry into a mall or a restaurant. Precautionary measures and adequate checks and balances have to be ensured where handling inventories and goods. The seating arrangement of diners should be such that adequate physical distance is maintained between diners. Under no circumstances, restaurants can operate with more than 50% seating capacity.
Moreover, the use of disposable menus, high-quality paper napkins, and contactless ordering and payment modes need to be encouraged by the management. The food courts have been advised to sanitise dining tables, kitchens, hand-washing stations, and washrooms at regular intervals. Safe disposal of used gloves, face covers, and masks must be ensured by the management. Employees who are at high risk should not be allowed to work as front-line staff.
According to MHA, posters, videos highlighting the preventive measures to contain the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus must be displayed prominently. The management must also restrict the number of people using elevators to adhere to social distancing guidelines. In no case, a large gathering of people should be allowed to assemble.
States issue directives
The Arvind Kejriwal-led-Delhi-Government had announced that banquets halls and hotels will remain unoperational from June 8. The State Government had decided to open its borders with Harayana and Uttar Pradesh from Monday. In a controversial decision, the Delhi Government has reportedly announced that the State-run hospitals would be available to only residents of Delhi and outsiders. According to Arvind Kejriwal, the State will need around 15,000 hospital beds by June.
The Karnataka Government has asked pregnant women, children below 10 years and senior citizens above the age of 65 to cooperate with the administration and stay at home. The State has directed the reopening of all places of worship to the public. Cleanliness and hygiene need to be maintained by the management within the temple premises. Besides, hand sanitisers should be provided and thermal screening of devotees will be done.
Markings should be made to ensure adherence to social distancing protocols. Devotees need to wear masks and have advised to not touch pillars, walls and statues. The State Government has directed devotees to download the Aarogya Setu app and keep their footwear in their vehicles and not within the temple premises.
Temples to reopen
Reportedly, about 1300 temples under the Malabar Devaswom Board will open its gates to devotees on June 9, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Union Government. All places of worship were directed to shut operations on March 24 with the enforcement of the first phase of the lockdown. After a gap of 2.5 months, temples are now preparing to welcome the attendance of devotees.
According to President N Vasu of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), only devotees wearing masks or face covers would be allowed to enter the temple premises. Besides, guards will be deployed to ensure compliance of social distancing measures at the time of entry. The devotees will also be provided with sanitiser dispensers. Besides, devotees will be allowed in batches and ‘Prasadam,’ ‘teertham’ and ‘nivedyam’ will not be provided. The devotees need to register online and non-localites have been asked to upload test results from accredited laboratory. At one time, only 50 devotees will be allowed inside the temple for darshan at one time. Children and adults below 10 years and above 65 years respectively cannot register online.
Country reopens with Unlock 1.0
On May 30, the MHA issued new guidelines for the phased reopening of the country after the fourth phase of lockdown ends on May 31. In addition, the decree also stated that the lockdown in containment zones will continue to remain in force for another month till June 30. The phase of re-opening, called ‘Unlock 1’, focused on restarting the economic activities in the country. The night curfew timings were also revised from earlier 7 PM to 7 AM to 9 PM to 5 AM. Furthermore, the Home Ministry had removed all the restrictions of the interstate and intra-state movement of people. But the new guidelines concerning night curfew timing would have to be followed.