The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on September 30 announced the Unlock 5.0 guidelines, further relaxing curbs on activities outside of containment zones. Despite a massive surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, with the new guidelines in place, local administrations in some states will be heavily relying on voluntary curfew and micro-containment strategies.
The period of Unlock 5.0 is likely to become the most crucial as a number of religious festivals are scheduled in October, including Durga Puja.
The new set of relaxations announced specifically in social gatherings may give help give devotees a sense of normalcy despite the pandemic.
Regulation of gatherings
Social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions and other congregations had already been permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons outside containment zones starting September 1. Now, states and union territories (UTs) have been given the flexibility to permit such gatherings beyond the limit of 100 persons, outside containment zones, after October 15, which will be subject to the following conditions:
- In closed spaces, a maximum of 50% 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, 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.
The phase-wise unlocking began in June with only a few essential activities beginning outside the containment zones.