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. “Unlock 5” is likely to come into effect from Thursday, October 1, and is expected to stay in place till October 30.
What relaxations are expected in ‘Unlock 5’ for October?
While other public places like malls, salons, restaurants, gyms have been allowed to operate with restrictions, cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks have still not received the go ahead. It remains to be seen if cinema halls are given the nod to reopen from October amid fervent requests by the Multiplex Association of India. Only open-air theatres were allowed to kickstart operations from September 21.
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.
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.
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).
What relaxations were allowed in ‘Unlock 4’?
In the fourth phase of ‘Unlock’, the government had allowed metro services to resume while permitting senior students of Class 9 to 12 to come to schools on a voluntary basis. Social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious and political functions were allowed to be held with a maximum 100 people from the earlier 50. Moreover, skill or entrepreneurship training was permitted in National Skill Training Institutes and Industrial Training Institutes. The guidelines also said states could no longer impose lockdowns outside containment zones without the Centre’s permission and must not seal borders.
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