Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Unlock 5.0 guidelines: More relaxations expected in October

Unlock 5.0 Guidelines & Rules: It remains to be seen if cinema halls are given the nod to reopen from October. Only open-air theatres were allowed to kickstart operations from September 21.

While several restrictions have been eased in different phases of ‘Unlock’ since June, the Union Home Ministry is slated to come out with fresh guidelines for October — which holds significance since it marks the beginning of the long festive season. Last month, the Home Ministry had said more relaxations and opening up of more activities would be gradually allowed in areas outside the containment zones. With industries hoping for a strong rebound in consumer demand this festive season, further easing of restrictions is expected.

What relaxations are expected in ‘Unlock 5’ for October?

Cinema Halls
The association said that they have been suffering a monthly loss of up to Rs 1,500 crores and the government might pay heed to their request under Unlock 5.0.  In August, Information and Broadcasting ministry secretary Amit Khare had suggested a seating arrangement formula for cinema halls. West Bengal has already given a go-ahead to cinema halls for operating from October 1 with a limited number of participants.

The tourism sector has been another important industry heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. States are gradually announcing the opening of hotels, home-stays and other tourism-related services. The Uttarakhand government has already removed the mandatory two-days stay in a hotel or homestay and a COVID-19 negative report for tourists.Odisha has announced the reopening of all tourist destinations from October and the tourism department has reportedly prepared a masterplan to promote major tourist destinations. The Sikkim government has decided to open its border with West Bengal for unrestricted movement from October 1 and allow tourism-related services from October 10.

Meanwhile, primary schools are expected to remain close for a few more weeks after several schools across the country have resumed their activities from September 21. Universities and colleges have already started entrance tests and counselling for the new academic year and are set to start online classes

 Unlock 5.0 Guidelines and Rules: Visitors enjoy at plaza in Sector 17 in Chandigarh

In fact, West Bengal has become the first state to allow cinema halls to operate from October 1 with a limited number of participants. “To return to normalcy, Jatras, Plays, OATs, Cinemas & all musical, dance, recital & magic shows shall be allowed to function with 50 participants or less from 1 Oct, subject to adherence to physical distancing norms, wearing of masks & compliance to precautionary protocols,” Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said.

Last month, Information and Broadcasting ministry secretary Amit Khare suggested to the Union Home Ministry on the sitting arrangement formula. According to the plan, the alternate seats in the first row and the next row might be kept vacant and proceeding in this fashion throughout.

Last week, a report had claimed that the Ministry of Home Affairs ordered the reopening of theatres from October 1 with strict regulations in place. However, a Press Information Bureau (PIB) fact check has debunked the reports.

Claim: A Media report has claimed that the Home Ministry has ordered reopening of cinema halls across the country from 1st October with the imposition of strict regulations. #PIBFactCheck: This claim is #Fake. No decision has been taken by @HMOIndia on reopening the cinema halls yet,” a tweet from PIB read.

 Unlock 5.0 Guidelines and Rules: Health workers wearing protective suits during collection of  swab for Covid-19 test inside a cinema hall in Kolkata. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

Likely boost for battered tourism sector

The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have battered the tourism sector the most and in Unlock 5, more tourism centres and tourist places may open its doors for travellers.

The Sikkim government has decided to allow hotels, home-stays and other tourism-related services to restart operations from October 10. The state has also decided to open its border with West Bengal for unrestricted movement of vehicles from October 1.

Kerala tourism may also reopen in October and the modalities were discussed at a meeting between the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) representatives with tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran.

The Uttarakhand government has also lifted Covid-19 restrictions for tourists. As per the revised set of guidelines, it is no longer mandatory for tourists to carry a coronavirus negative report. Moreover, the requirement of a mandatory stay of a minimum two days in a hotel or homestay has also been done away with.

 Unlock 5.0 Guidelines and Rules: A health worker sorts samples for Covid-19 test at a govt dispensary in New Delhi (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

On Sunday, the Odisha government announced that it would reopen all tourist destinations from October. Tourism Minister J P Panigrahi said his department had prepared a master plan to promote various destinations in the

state to attract tourists. “We have decided to reopen all the tourist spots from October with strict adherence to health safety guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” PTI quoted Panigrahi as saying.

Restaurants in Maharashtra to open for dine-in from October first week

The Maharashtra government has agreed to allow restaurant owners in the state to provide dine-in service from the first week of October. After remaining completely shut for two and a half months, the state government had allowed the restaurants to open on June 1 but only for takeaway and home deliveries

“We had a fruitful meeting with CM Uddhav Thackeray and his team about reopening of dine-in facility at the restaurants. The CM has assured us that the restaurant will be allowed to provide the service from October first week. He has asked us to ensure that the standard operating procedure (SOP) required to be followed by the restaurants are strictly being adhered to and safety of the patrons is not compromised,” said Ganesh Shetty, President of Pune Restaurant and Hoteliers’ Association (PRAHA).



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