New Delhi: With new Covid-19 cases falling to seven-month lows, the Union home ministry on Wednesday allowed cinema halls and theatres to operate with more people while swimming pools have been permitted for use, just in time for the summer. Exhibition halls were allowed to resume.
According to the fresh ‘unlock’ guidelines issued on Wednesday, effective from February 1, there shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of people and goods including those for cross land-border trade.
Social, religious, sports, entertainment, educational, cultural, religious gatherings have been permitted up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 people in closed spaces and in keeping with the size of open spaces. The caps on these gatherings will be subject to standard operating procedure (SOP) of the state and Union Territory concerned, the home ministry said. “Cinema halls and theatres have already been permitted up to 50 per cent of seating capacity. Now they will be permitted to operate at higher seating capacity, for which a revised SOP will be issued by the ministry of information and broadcasting in consultation with MHA,” the guidelines said. Cinema houses opened are running to house full shows, and managements have asked the government to allow them to all more viewers per show, both in view of public dem-and and to cover the losses sustained during the lockdown period. Tamil Nadu briefly allowed 100 per cent capacity in theatres.
Swimming pools have already been permitted for use of sportspersons. Now, these will be permitted for use of all, for which a revised SOP will be issued by ministry of youth affairs and sports in consultation. Gyms have reopened several months back, as well as parks, and the reopening of swimming pools gives those keeping a fitness regimen another avenue to keep fit. For casual swimmers, this order comes just in time for the traditional opening of swimming pools ahead of the summer. Business to business (B2B) exhibition halls have already been permitted. Now all types of exhibition halls will be permitted, for which a revised SOP will be issued by the department of commerce.
The main focus of the guidelines is to consolidate the substantial gains that have been achieved against the spread of Covid-19 which is visible in the steady decline in number of active and new cases in the country over the last four months, the MHA said.