More relaxations for theatres, swimming pools open: MHA

MHA issues fresh Covid-19 guidelines: Movie theatre capacity relaxed, swimming pools open to all

All activities have been permitted outside containment zones, except a few which will be subject to strict adherence of SOPs

 A worker wearing PPE kit sanitises a cinema hall, as mutilplexes prepare to re-open from tomorrow after nearly eight months of closure due to coronavirus lockdown, in Chennai. Credit PTI Photo

With a decline in the number of active and new Covid-19 cases and vaccination drive on, the Centre on Wednesday allowed cinema halls and theatres to operate with higher capacity and swimming pools permitted for use by all.

In fresh Covid-19 reopening guidelines which will be effective from Feb. 1, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday reiterated that there shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of people and goods including those for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries.

The ministry said 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 the number of active and new cases in the country over the last four months.

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Indicating its openness to further opening of international air travel of passengers, the MHA said that the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) may take a decision in consultation with MHA based on the assessment of the situation.

"Cinema halls and theatres have already been permitted upto 50% of seating capacity. Now they will be permitted to operate at higher seating capacity, for which a revised Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in consultation with MHA," the official statement said.

There are also relaxations on rules for swimming pools, which had already been permitted for use by sportspeople. "Now, swimming pools will be permitted for use by all, for which a revised SOP will be issued by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports in consultation with MHA," it said.

Business to Business 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 in consultation with the MHA.

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Social, religious, sports, entertainment, educational, cultural, religious gatherings have already been permitted up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 people in closed spaces. Events are allowed in open spaces too.

"Now, such gatherings will be allowed subject to SOP of the state and UT concerned," the guidelines said.

Now containment zones, if required, shall be carefully demarcated by the district authorities at a "micro-level", taking into consideration guidelines prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in this regard, according to the new guidelines.

The new guidelines came on a day when the number of total active Covid-19 cases in India stands at 1,76,498 with 12,689 new cases and 137 more fatalities. Delhi, which had nearly seen a second wave, also recorded a single-day rise of under 100 cases (96) on Tuesday, which is the lowest in over nine months. Nine deaths were reported in the national capital in its daily update.