Students, however, will be given the option of attending online rather than physical classes if they so prefer and schools may not enforce attendance. A call on opening of higher education institutions is to be taken by the ministry of education based on an assessment of the situation with no date set out in the guidelines issued on Wednesday.
There are no changes in rules regarding air and train travel. There is a strong reiteration that local lockdowns will not be imposed outside containment zones without consulting the home ministry.
Cinemas, theatres and multiplexes have been permitted to open with up to 50% of their seating capacity in non-containment zones from October 15, while swimming pools can be used from the same date but only those for training of sportspersons.
Other activities allowed from mid-October under the fresh guidelines — effective from October 1 to 31, 2020 – include opening of entertainment parks and “similar places” as well as conduct of business-to-business exhibitions.
Importantly, social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious and political functions can be held after October 15 with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces, subject to a maximum 50% of the hall capacity. In open spaces, crowds may be allowed depending on the size of the ground. In both situations, wearing of face masks, social distancing, provision of thermal scanning and use of hand wash and sanitiser will be mandatory. To ensure that such gatherings do not spread Covid-19, states and UT governments will be required to issue detailed SOPs and strictly enforce them.
The relaxation on political gatherings is set to help parties and candidates to get on with physical campaigning for the upcoming polls in Bihar and bypolls to one Lok Sabha and 56 assembly seats.
For reopening of schools and coaching institutions, governments may take a decision after October 15 in consultation with the respective school or institution management, based on their assessment of the situation. However, online learning will continue to be preferred mode of teaching, and students may attend school only with parental consent also after discussions between schools and administrations. Attendance therefore will depend entirely on parents’ consent.
Higher education institutions for research scholars and post-graduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory or experimental work, can open from October 15. Centre will decide on opening the centrally-funded higher education institutions and state governments will take a call for state universities and private universities.
Home ministry on Wednesday said the new guidelines are based on feedback received from States and UTs, and extensive consultations held with related Central ministries and departments.
International air travel of passengers will continue to be allowed as permitted by MHA. Containment Zones shall be demarcated by the district authorities at micro level after taking into consideration the guidelines of MoHFW, and lockdown there will remain in force till October 31. The new guidelines reiterated that the states and UT governments shall not impose any local lockdowns without prior nod of the Centre.
Senior citizens, children below 10 years, persons with co-morbidities and pregnant women continue to be advised to stay at home except for meeting essential requirements and health purposes.
Watch MHA issues Unlock 5 guidelines: What all is allowed