India has been relaxing coronavirus-related lockdown restrictions in a staggered manner since June under the Centre's 'Unlock' plan. The government had allowed reopening of metro train services as part of the 'Unlock 4.0' guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on August 29.
Fresh set of guidelines for easing of the lockdown further are expected to come into effect for October, under what could be possibly called 'Unlock 5.0'. This is expected to reopen up more activities outside of containment zones as the festive season is set to commence in India.
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Likely relaxations under ‘Unlock 5.0’
Public places such as malls, salons, restaurants and gyms have already been allowed to operate. However, cinema halls, swimming pools and entertainment parks continue to be remain shut. It is possible that the government may give its nod to reopen multiplexes and cinema halls, with strict safety measures.
West Bengal has already announced it would let cinema halls open from October 1, albeit with limitations and restrictions. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said: “To return to normalcy, jatras, plays, OATs, cinemas, and all musical, dance, recital, and magic shows will be allowed to function with a maximum of 50 participants from October 1, while adhering strictly to physical distancing norms, wearing masks, etc.”
In August, Amit Khare, Secretary of Information and Broadcasting Ministry had even suggested a sitting arrangement formula for multiplexes to the Union Home Ministry, reported the Indian Express. As per the plan, alternate seats between rows would be kept vacant to ensure proper social distancing.
It is possible that more tourism centres and tourist spots will be reopened under Unlock 5.0. Among states, Sikkim has already announced plans to allow tourism-related activities from October 10, while its borders with West Bengal will also be opened from October 1 to allow free movement of vehicles.
Kerala is also likely to allow tourists from next month, while the Uttarakhand government has already relaxed COVID-19 restrictions for tourists. Additionally, the Odisha government will be reopening all tourist destinations from October.
The Centre may also allow schools, coaching centres, and other educational institutes to start offline classes; as of now only students of higher classes are allowed to visit their schools voluntarily for guidance. The restrictions limiting attendees at weddings and funerals may be lifted as well under unlock 5.0.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic