India is entering the fourth phase of unlocking starting September 1. The Union Home Ministry on Saturday announced major relaxations in the Unlock 4 guidelines. One of the major announcements was the permission for metro trains to travel. Congregations of up to 100 people will be permitted from September 21. The home ministry said the new guidelines were based on feedback received from the states and union territories, and extensive consultations held with related central ministries and departments. The home ministry said that state governments shall not impose any local lockdown outside the containment zones without prior consultation with the central government. Lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the containment zones till September 30. Unlock 4 will come into effect from September 1 and will continue till September 30. Here’s what you need to know:
Metro train services
Metro rail services, suspended since March 22, can now resume with effect from September 7 in a graded manner. A standard operating procedure (SOP) in this regard will be iussued by the Minisry of Housing and Urban Affairs. According to PTI sources, the SOPs for running the metro trains have already been circulated and will be discussed on September 1 through video conference by the MOHUA with all metro companies and finalised. All MDs have been asked to look into SOPs prepared by the MOHUA earlier in view of the current realities. All suggestions will be considered in the video conference and accordingly SOPs will be finalised.
Schools, educational institutions
Schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutios will continue to remain closed for students and regular class activity up to September 30. Online or distance learning shall continue. Students of Classes 9 to 12 may be permitted to visit their schools in areas outside the containment zones only on a voluntary basis for taking guidance from their teachers. The ministry said the states and union territories may permit up to 50 percent of teaching and non-teaching staff to be called to schools at a time for online teaching or tele-counselling and related work. Meanwhile, Higher education institutions only for research scholars (PhD) and post-graduate students of technical and professional programmes requiring laboratory and experimental works 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 incidence of COVID-19 in states and UTs. Skill or entrepreneurship training will be permitted in National Skill Training Institutes, Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs).
During the Unlock 4 phase, social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions and other congregations will be permitted with a ceiling of 100 people, with effect from September 21. However, the ministry said such limited gatherings can be held with the mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing and provision for thermal scanning and has wash or sanitiser. The permission to hold political and gatherings is also significant because it comes ahead of the Bihar assembly elections, which are due in October-November.
Cinema halls will continue to remain shut. Open-air theatres will be permitted to open with effect from September 21. Swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres and similar places will remain closed.
International air travel
The international air travel of passengers, except as permitted by the MHA, will not be allowed. Meanwhile, there will be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods, and no separate permission/e-permit will be required for such movements during Unlock 4. ”Movement by passenger trains; domestic passenger air travel; a movement of a person on Vande Bharat and Air Transport Bubble flights; and sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers will continue to be regulated as per the SOPs issued,” the MHA said.
Bars, which have been shut since March, will be allowed to open fro, September 1.
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