Hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, religious places and offices in containment zones shall remain closed, except for medical and essential services, according to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the Union Health Ministry on Thursday.
It said these establishments would be open only outside the containment zones and only asymptomatic staff members, guests and visitors would have access to these areas. No gathering or crowding of any kind would be permitted.
Persons aged above 65, those with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 are still advised to stay at home, except for essential and healthcare purposes.
In its SOPs for restaurants, hotels and shopping malls, the Ministry said the staff members and guests were to be allowed entry only if they were using face cover/masks. “The face cover/mask has to be worn at all times inside the hotel and adequate manpower shall be deployed by hotel management for ensuring social distancing norms. Staff should additionally wear gloves and take other required precautionary measures.”
All employees who are at higher risk — older employees, pregnant employees and those who have underlying medical conditions — are to take extra precautions. “They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public. Hotel management should facilitate work from home wherever feasible.”
In shopping malls, the use of escalators with one person on alternate steps may be encouraged and the temperature setting of all air-conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degrees Celsius. Intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross-ventilation should be adequate. Large gatherings and congregations remain prohibited.
Gaming arcades, children’s play area and cinema halls in shopping malls shall remain closed.
For restaurants, the Ministry has noted that takeaways should be encouraged, instead of dine-in, and food delivery personnel should leave the packets at the doorstep and not hand them over to the customer.
The guideline for religious places notes that common prayer mats should be avoided and devotees should bring their own prayer mat or a piece of cloth which they may take back. “No physical offerings, like prasad/distribution or sprinkling of holy water, to be allowed inside the religious place. Community kitchens, langars and “ann-daan” at religious places should follow physical distancing norms while preparing and distributing food. Shoes and footwear to be preferably taken off inside own vehicle,” the Ministry said.
Furthermore, the touching of statues, idols and holy books is not allowed. In view of the potential threat of spread of infection, recorded devotional music and songs may be played. Choir or singing groups should not be allowed, the Ministry said.
The Ministry has also announced extension of the date till July-end for reimbursement of OPD medicine for the Central Services Medical Attendance beneficiaries.