Coronavirus | Rules relaxed for cinemas, swimming pools in fresh Home Ministry guidelines

Guidelines permit opening of cinema halls and theatres at a higher capacity than the 50% seating strength; Swimming pools permitted to open for all.

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order on January 27 extending the COVID-19 “guidelines for surveillance, containment and caution” till February 28.

The guidelines permit the opening of cinema halls and theatres at a higher capacity than the 50% seating strength allowed till now. Swimming pools have also been permitted to open for all.

Also read | COVID-19 deaths drop below 120 across India

All kinds of social, religious and cultural gatherings that were earlier restricted to a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces, will now be allowed subject to the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by State governments.

“For further opening up of international air travel of passengers, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) may take a decision in consultation with MHA based on the assessment of the situation,” the order said.

“The main focus of the guidelines is to consolidate the substantial gains that have been achieved against the spread of COVID-19 which is visible in the steady decline in number of active and new cases in the country over the last four months. It is, therefore, emphasised that to fully overcome the pandemic, there is need to maintain caution and to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy focussed on surveillance, containment and strict observance of the guidelines/ SOPs issued by MHA and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW),” it stated.

The earlier guidelines under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 that were issued in December are applicable till January 31.

“Cinema halls and theatres have already been permitted upto 50% of seating capacity. Now they will be permitted to operate at higher seating capacity, for which a revised SOP will be issued by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in consultation with MHA. Swimming pools have already been permitted for use of sports persons. Now swimming pools will be permitted for use of all, for which a revised SOP will be issued by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MoYA&S) in consultation with MHA,” the order said.

“There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements,” the order reiterated.

The MHA said that “containment zones, if required, shall be carefully demarcated by the district authorities at the micro level, taking into consideration guidelines prescribed by MoHFW in this regard. Within the demarcated containment zones, containment measures, as prescribed by MoHFW shall be scrupulously followed.”

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