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New MHA Covid guidelines from December 1: What’s allowed, what isn’t

Based on their assessment of the situation on ground, states and union territories are permitted to impose local restrictions such as night curfews, but cannot enforce a local lockdown without prior consultation with the Central government.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: November 26, 2020 10:13:17 pm
Mumbai RT-PCR tests, Mumbai covid cases, Mumbai coronavirus test, Mumbai news, Maharashtra news, Indian express newsA bus terminus being screened for Covid symptoms on Wednesday. (Photo: Deepak Joshi)

Amidst a surge in Covid-19 cases in several states and union territories across the country, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Wednesday released a new set of guidelines for “surveillance, containment and caution” to mitigate the spread of the infection.

The guidelines will be effective from December 1, and are set to remain in force till the end of the month. Based on their assessment of the situation on ground, states and Union Territories are permitted to impose local restrictions such as night curfews, but cannot enforce a local lockdown without prior consultation with the central government.

With the fresh set of guidelines, the Centre has now given states the elbow room to impose any kind of restriction they deem fit as long as they do not get in the way of inter-state movement of both public and goods. The MHA has reiterated that states cannot seal borders.

The ministry stated that local police and municipal authorities are responsible for ensuring that the guidelines are strictly followed.

Here is a breakdown of the fresh guidelines issued by the MHA:

Surveillance and Containment

States and Union Territories have been directed to ensure careful demarcation of containment zones by district authorities at a micro level, taking into consideration the guidelines prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in this regard.

Within the demarcated containment zones, all containment measures prescribed by the MoHFW must be strictly followed. These include:

— Only essential activities will be allowed in the containment zones.

— There will be strict perimeter control to ensure that people are not moving in or out of these zones, except in the case of medical emergencies and for maintaining supply of essential services and goods.

— Intensive house-to-house surveillance will be carried out by surveillance teams formed for this purpose.

— Testing will be carried out as per prescribed protocol

As Covid-19 cases surge, Centre sends high-level teams to Himachal, Punjab, UP Markets shut in Shimla on Sunday due to rising coronavirus cases. (Express Photo by Pradeep Kumar)

— Listing of contacts will be carried in respect of all persons found positive, along with their tracking, identification, quarantine and follow up of contacts for 14 days (80 percent of contacts to be traced in 72 hours).

— Quick isolation of Covid-19 patients will be ensured in treatment facilities or at home.

— Clinical intervention will be administered as prescribed.

— Surveillance of ILI/ SARI cases shall be carried out in health facilities or outreach mobile units or through fever clinics in buffer zones.

— Awareness shall be created in communities on COVID-19 appropriate behaviour.

Read | Behind Delhi’s Covid-19 death spike: Steep peak, late admission, ICU crunch

— Local district police and municipal authorities are responsible for ensuring that the prescribed Containment measures are strictly followed and State/ UT Governments shall ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard.

Activities permitted outside containment zones

According to the new guidelines, all activities are permitted outside containment zones, except for the following, which are permitted but with certain restrictions.

— International air travel of passengers, as permitted by MHA.

— Cinema halls and theatres, with up to 50 percent capacity.

pvr cinema halls reopening A worker sanitizing the auditorium before the beginning of a show at PVR Cinemas in New Delhi. (Express photo by Mimansa Shekhar)

— Swimming pools, only for training of sports persons.

— Exhibition halls, only for business to business (B2B) purposes.

— Social/ religious/ sports/ entertainment/ educational/ cultural/ religious gatherings, with upto a maximum of 50 percent of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces; and keeping of the size of the ground/ space in view, in open spaces.

However, based on their assessment, states and UT governments may reduce the ceiling to 100 people or less in closed spaces.

Local restrictions

— Based on their assessment of the Covid situation on-ground, states and UTs are permitted to impose local restrictions such as night curfews, with a view to contain the spread of Covid-19. However, they are not allowed to impose local lockdowns outside containment zones without prior consultation with the Centre.

— States and UTs are also required to enforce social distancing in offices. In cities where weekly case positivity rate is more than 10 per cent, states and UTs can consider implementing staggered office timings and other suitable measures to reduce the number of employees attending office at the same time, and thereby ensuring social distancing.

Policemen direct passengers to get themselves tested for Covid-19 at the Delhi-Noida border. (Express Photo by Gajendra Yadav)

—There shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and good including those for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission, approval, or e-permit is required.

The Centre has also asked states and UTs to enforce all necessary measures to promote Covid-19 appropriate behaviour such as wearing a face mask, hand hygiene and maintaining adequate social distance.

Vulnerable people, such as those over the age of 65 or persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children under the age of 10 years, are advised to stay at home as far as possible.

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