New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs Saturday released the guidelines for Unlock 4, allowing students of Classes 9-12 to visit schools voluntarily from 21 September for guidance from teachers, and permitting the resumption of Metro train services from 7 September.
The guidelines mark the fourth phase of Unlock, an exercise to ease the restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 lockdown. Unlock 4.0 comes into effect from 1 September or Tuesday.
According to the new guidelines, schools and colleges — closed since mid-March on account of the pandemic — will remain shut until 30 September. However, states and union territories may permit up to 50 per cent of teaching and non-teaching staff to be called to schools at a time for online teaching or tele-counselling and related work.
“Students of classes 9 to 12 may be permitted to visit their schools, in areas outside containment zones only, on a voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers,” the guidelines say.
“This will be subject to written consent of their parents or guardians,” they add.
The fresh relaxations allow Metro train services like the Delhi Metro to operate in a graded manner from 7 September. “In this regard, Standard Operating Procedure will be issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs,” the guidelines say.
Moreover, social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions and other congregations that are currently restricted to just 50 people will be permitted with a ceiling of 100 participants from 21 September.
“However, such limited gatherings can be held with mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitiser,” the guidelines say.
Other education activities allowed
The relaxations for educational institutions include permission for National Skill Training Institutes, Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), short-term training centres registered with National Skill Development Corporation or State Skill Development Missions or other Ministries of Government of India or state governments, to resume skill or entrepreneurship training from 21 September.
“National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD), Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) and their training providers will also be permitted,” the guidelines state.
For higher education institutions, relaxations have been given only for research scholars (PhD) and postgraduate students of technical and professional programmes requiring laboratory and experimental work.
“These will be permitted by the Department of Higher Education (DHE) in consultation with the MHA, based on the assessment of the situation, and keeping in view the incidence of Covid-19 in the states/ UTs,” the guidelines add.
Cinema halls, international travel not to resume yet
According to the guidelines, cinema halls, swimming pools, and entertainment parks will remain shut. However, open-air theatres will be permitted to operate from 21 September.
International air travel, except as permitted by MHA, will remain suspended as well.
“Lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the containment zones till 30 September. Containment zones shall be demarcated by the district authorities at micro level after taking into consideration the guidelines of MoHFW (Ministry of Health & Family Welfare) with the objective of effectively breaking the chain of transmission,” the guidelines say.
“Strict containment measures will be enforced in these containment zones and only essential activities will be allowed.”
The guidelines further state that, within containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and only essential activities allowed.
“These containment zones will be notified on the websites of the respective district collectors and by the states/UTs and information will also be shared with MoHFW,” they state.
‘States not to impose local lockdown outside containment zones’
The new guidelines also say that state and union territory governments “shall not impose any local lockdown (state/district/sub-division/city/ village-level), outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the central government”.
So far during the lockdown, states and UTs have been allowed to effect their own restrictions to keep the pandemic in check.
The guidelines further clarify that there is no restriction on inter–state and intra–state movement.
“There shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods. No separate permission, approval, e-permit will be required for such movements,” they say.