NEW DELHI: Unlock 3.0 starting August 1 won’t see too many changes to Covid-19 containment measures but yoga institutes and gyms will be allowed to reopen and night curfews will be lifted. Schools, colleges, metro rail services, cinema halls and international travel will have to remain suspended. However, exemptions for repatriation and other emergency travel needs will continue to apply for overseas flights. The home ministry announced fresh guidelines on Wednesday under Unlock 3.0 to relax lockdown restrictions in areas outside containment zones. They take effect on Saturday.
“Yoga institutes, gyms will be allowed to open from August 5. The SOPs will be issued by the Union health ministry,” the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a press release.
State, district and panchayat-level officials should ensure that safety norms such as distancing and masks are followed at Independence Day celebrations on August 15, MHA said. Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums will stay shut until August 31. The government said dates for the reopening of such facilities services will be “decided separately based on the assessment of the situation.”
“Cases have stabilised in some places to a certain extent and we would not want to take any chances,” a government official said. “Large gatherings are bad and can result in an increase in Covid-19 cases again. State governments are against the opening of schools, colleges and educational institutions.”
International air travel will continue to be permitted in a limited manner under the Vande Bharat repatriation programme. Any further opening up will take place in a calibrated manner, the MHA said. Social, political, sporting, entertainment, academic, cultural and religious functions will not be allowed until August 31, it said. The government said the new guidelines are based on feedback received from states and Union territories.
India’s nationwide lockdown began on March 25 and was extended to May 31 after which the Centre eased restrictions in order to get the economy moving again while observing safety norms. Two sets of guidelines have been announced by the National Executive Council (NEC), which acts on the directions of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The NEC is chaired by the home secretary.
According to the MHA, shutdowns will stay in place in containment zones until August 31. Also known as hotspots, these are areas where the infection spread is severe, officials said. Within the perimeters of containment zones, strict physical distancing and other norms for containing the spread of the virus will be maintained and only essential activities will be allowed, MHA said.
These containment zones will be notified on the websites of the respective district collectors of the states and UTs.