Unlock-5: Govt allows schools, cinemas to open from 15 October

Ministry of home affairs (MHA) on Thursday issued new guidelines further extending restricted functioning of educational institutions while also opening up of more activities in areas outside the containment zones. 

As per the guidelines, which will come into effect from 1 October 2020, schools, cinema halls business-to-business exhibitions, training of sportspersons will be permitted, although with restrictions.
The new guidelines are based on feedback received from states and UTs, and extensive consultations held with related central ministries and departments, according to an MHA statement. 
State/ UT governments have been given the flexibility to take a decision on re-opening of schools and coaching institutions, after 15 October 2020, in a graded manner. The decision shall be taken in consultation with the respective school/ institution management, based on their assessment of the situation, and subject to the following conditions:
  • Online/ distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged;
  • Where schools are conducting online classes, and some students prefer to attend online classes rather than physically attend school, they may be permitted to do so;
  • Students may attend schools/ institutions only with the written consent of parents;
  • Attendance must not be enforced, and must depend entirely on parental consent.
States /UTs will prepare their own SOPs regarding health and safety precautions for reopening of schools/ institutions based on the SOP to be issued by Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), ministry of education, Government of India, keeping local requirements in view.
Schools, which are allowed to open, will have to mandatorily follow the SOP to be issued by Education Departments of states/ UTs.
Department of Higher Education (DHE), ministry of education may take a decision on the timing of the opening of olleges/ higher education institutions, in consultation with the ministry of home affairs (MHA), based on the assessment of the situation. 
Online/ distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged. However, higher education institutions only for research scholars (Ph.D) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/ experimental works will be permitted to open from 15 October 2020, as under:
For centrally funded higher education institutions, the head of institution will satisfy herself/ himself that there is a genuine requirement of research scholars (Ph.D) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream for laboratory/experimental works.
For all other higher education Institutions, eg, state universities, private universities etc, they may open only for research scholars (Ph.D) and postgraduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/experimental works as per decision to be taken by the respective state/UT Governments.
Cinemas/ theatres/ multiplexes will be permitted to open with up to 50 per cent of their seating capacity, for which the ministry of information and broadcasting will issue standard operating procedures (SOP).
Business-to-business (B2B) exhibitions will be permitted to open, for which the Department of Commerce will issue the SOP.
Swimming pools being used for training of sportspersons will be permitted to open, for which the ministry of youth affairs and sports (MoYA&S) will issue the standard operating procedure. 
Entertainment parks and similar places will be permitted to open, for which the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) will issue the SOP. 
All gathering of people for social/ academic/ sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious/ political functions and other congregations have already been permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons, only outside containment zones. Now state/ UT governments have been given the flexibility to permit such gatherings beyond the limit of 100 persons, outside containment zones, after 15 October 2020, which will be subject to conditions.
Accordingly, in closed spaces, a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity will be allowed, with a ceiling of 200 persons. Wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitizer will be mandatory.
In open spaces, such functions should be allowed keeping the size of the ground/ space in view, and with strict observance of social distancing, mandatory wearing of face masks, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer.