In its guidelines for the fifth phase of unlock, on September 30, the Union home ministry had given permission for these to reopen from October 15. In some places, schools had reopened on September 21, as per guidelines for that phase of unlock.
The country will reopen further from Thursday as schools, cinema halls, multiplexes, entertainment parks, swimming pools–all outside containment zones–will reopen with strict Covid-19 norms in place. In its guidelines for the fifth phase of nationwide unlock, on September 30, the Union home ministry had given permission for these places to reopen from October 15.
While schools had reopened partially, on voluntary basis for class 9-12 on September 21 during Unlock 4, other places were not allowed to open.
Following relaxations will come into effect from Thursday:
Schools: While the Centre has approved phase-wise reopening of schools, final decision will be taken by state governments. While most states, including Delhi and Maharashtra, have decided not to reopen schools for now, others like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have announced reopening of schools–October 15 in Punjab and October 19 in Uttar Pradesh.
Broad guidelines for reopening of schools issued by the central government include online/distance learning, written permission from parents to attend, classes in shifts, flexibility in attendance, no assessment for up to three weeks etc.
Cinema halls/multiplexes: These can reopen with 50% occupancy with adequate physical distancing while seating. Seats which are not to be occupied, shall have to be marked as such. Show timings shall be staggered and digital payment modes will be encouraged.
Also, sufficient number of ticket counters will be opened and advance booking allowed to prevent crowding. Only packaged food and beverages will be allowed.
Entertainment parks: Cleaning and sanitisation of frequently touches surfaces, open spaces, work areas etc. shall be done before the parks open and after they close for the day, as well as at other appropriate times. There must be separate covered bins for disposal of used face masks and covers. Also, swimming pools in these parks will stay closed; however, water parks and those with water rides shall ensure regular and adequate filtration and chlorination of water.
Further, the park authorities will have to deploy adequate security personnel for queue management inside and outside the premises. Planning for park management must factor in crowd sizes, including during peak hours. To avoid crowding adequate ticket counters must be made available and online booking encouraged.
Swimming pools: The SOPs for reopening swimming pools, as released by the sports ministry, state a maximum of only 20 swimmers can train during a session in an Olympic-sized pool. While swimmers have been directed to submit ‘obligatory self-declaration,’ residential trainees will have to submit a mandatory Covid-19 negative report.
Each training centre will have a Covid-19 task force to guide and monitor trainees, coaches and staff.