Social distancing, tempchecks are the norms for reopening of malls, religious places

Social distancing, tempchecks are the norms for reopening of malls, religious places

As the number of new COVID-19 cases rise, and the trends appear to coincide with the gradual lifting of the Centre’s lockdown order, the Government on Thursday declared new regulations for reopening of shopping malls, restaurants, hotels and places of worship.

The reopening of non-essential retail is due to be conducted in a safe and controlled manner, with measures implemented to ensure strict adherence to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare guidelines.

The guidelines, which will come into effect from June 8 (Monday), include measures like staggering visitors to malls and no touching of idols at religious places. Detailed regulations were also issued for offices which have been allowed to function over the past few weeks.

All establishments that are in containment zones, however, will continue to remain shut as ordered earlier.

Temperature checks will be mandatory at entrances and visitors will be allowed only if they use face cover or masks which should be worn at all times, the Health Ministry stated in its guidelines. Cinema halls, gaming arcades and children play areas in these establishments will remain shut, the Ministry added.

Keeping a distance of a minimum of six feet should be maintained  when standing in line to enter malls, while shops in malls should let small groups in at a time.

It is recommended that the number of people in the elevators should be reduced, while use of escalators with one person on alternate steps should be encouraged.

Door handles, lift buttons, hand rails, benches and washroom fixtures should be cleaned and regularly disinfected, while washrooms should be deep cleaned at regular intervals.

For restaurants and mall food courts, the health ministry stipulations limit the seating capacity to 50 per cent. Disposable menus are recommended, while instead of cloth napkins, use of disposable paper napkins should be encouraged.

Takeaways and home deliveries should be encouraged instead of dine-in. Contactless deliveries should be followed, the regulations stated.

The ministry also said that the personnel for home deliveries must be screened thermally before they are allowed to go for a delivery.

The Centre has advised hotels and hospitality services to ensure a proper record of the guest’s travel history and medical condition, along with ID and self-declaration form.

In places of worship, not only will the jostling crowds be gone, making offerings and receiving prasad, vermillion dots or holy water will be a strict no-no. There should also be no singing and only recorded devotional music should be played as far as possible, the Centre said in its new safety guidelines.

Religious places across the country had shut their doors to the public days before the nationwide lockdown was announced on March 25.

Meanwhile for workplaces, any staff member living in a coronavirus containment zone should be allowed to work from home and not attend office till the time the area is denotified.

The period will not be counted as leave, the health ministry said.

Listing the stipulations, the ministry underscored the need for maintaining effective and frequent sanitation within the premises, with a particular focus on lavatories, drinking and hand washing stations.