With most of India immersing itself in festivities over the past months, a spike in the daily number of coronavirus cases has been noticed in several states. Therefore, in view of the current COVID-19 situation, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) issued fresh guidelines to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
According to the new Health Ministry guidelines, markets located in containment zones will remain shut and only those outside of containment zones will be allowed to function.
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The Centre has also urged persons in vulnerable categories such as those aged above 65 years and those with comorbidities to stay at home and only step out if absolutely necessary.
Even shop employees who fall under high-risk categories have been advised to take extra precautions and avoid indulging in work-related activities that involve coming in direct contact with the public.
The ministry has also reminded people to adhere to COVID-appropriate behaviour including social distancing, use of face masks, etc.
The Health Ministry has said it will get in touch with the Market Owners Associations to ensure strict implementation of the new coronavirus rules. These market associations will have to form a sub-committee to facilitate the implementation of the new coronavirus rules for markets outside containment zones and monitor the proper implementation of the same alongside COVID-appropriate behaviour.
They have been advised to set up mask dispensing kiosks at government-approved rates at entry points and parking lots and distribute free masks to those who cannot afford them.
Additionally, hand washing stations must be established in public utility areas and soap and water must be available at all times. Market associations will also have to make sure there are thermal screening provisions at all entry/ access points to the market.
Queue management inside and outside the shops will be mandatory and for crowd control, staggered time of shops/utilities has been recommended while making provisions to keep them open for longer.
As per the Health Ministry guidelines, in case self-regulation fails, enforcement agencies will step in. They may even impose measures such as the opening of markets on alternate days or close markets altogether.Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here