Govt lifts most restrictions on public activities as Covid strain eases

The centre has lifted most Covid-related restrictions on public activities, throwing open cinema halls and swimming pools to wider participation, except in containment zones. 

With a steady fall in the number of new coronavirus cases, the ministry of home affairs on Wednesday announced that all activities will be permitted outside containment zones from 1 February 2021.
While there will be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of people and goods, the MHA said, the National Directives for Covid-19 Management shall continue to be followed throughout the country.
The new MHA guidelines, issued on Wednesday, mandates states and union territories to continue to enforce containment measures and SOPs on various activities and Covid-appropriate behaviour.
The MHA said the guidelines are aimed at consolidating 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. 
However, the ministry emphasised that to fully overcome the pandemic, there is a need to maintain caution and to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy focused on surveillance, containment and strict observance of the guidelines/ SOPs issued by MHA and the ministry of health and family welfare (MoH&FW).
MHA has asked states to clearly demarcate containment zones, wherever required, at the micro level, taking into consideration guidelines prescribed by the health ministry in this regard. Within the demarcated containment zones, containment measures, as prescribed by MoHFW shall be scrupulously followed.
Local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible for ensuring that the prescribed containment measures are strictly followed and state/ UT governments shall ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard
The National Directives for Covid-19 management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, so as to enforce Covid-19 appropriate behavior.
All activities have been permitted outside containment zones, except for the following, which will be subject to strict adherence of SOPs, as indicated below:
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 persons in closed spaces; and keeping of the size of the ground/ space in view, in open spaces. Now such gatherings will be allowed subject to SOP of the state/ UT concerned.
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 ministry of information and broadcasting in consultation with the MHA.
Swimming pools have already been permitted for use of sports persons. Now swimming pools will be permitted for use of all, for which a revised SOP will be issued by the ministry of youth affairs and sports (MoYA&S) in consultation with MHA.
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 in consultation with MHA.
For further opening up of international air travel of passengers, the civil aviation ministry may take a decision in consultation with MHA, based on the assessment of the situation.
SOPs, as updated from time to time, have been prescribed for various activities. These include: movement by passenger trains; air travel; metro trains; schools; higher educational institutions; hotels and restaurants; shopping malls, multiplexes and entertainment parks; yoga centres and gymnasiums, etc. These SOPs shall be strictly enforced by the authorities concerned, who shall be responsible for their strict observance. 
There will be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods, including those for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.
Persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years are advised to take necessary precautions.