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A health worker collects a swab sample from a man for a RT-PCR covid-19 test at a marketplace in New Delhi on Wednesday.afp (MINT_PRINT)
A health worker collects a swab sample from a man for a RT-PCR covid-19 test at a marketplace in New Delhi on Wednesday.afp (MINT_PRINT)

MHA empowers states to impose fresh covid curbs

  • The guidelines will be effective from 1 December and remain in force for a month

States and Union territories may again impose restrictions on the movement of people to contain the spread of covid-19 based on their assessment of the situation, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) said on Wednesday.

The MHA said state and UT governments must also take all necessary measures to promote covid-19 appropriate behaviour and ensure strict enforcement of the norms such as wearing face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.

“In order to enforce the core requirement of wearing face masks, states and UTs may consider administrative actions, including imposition of appropriate fines on persons not wearing face masks in public and workspaces," it said.

The guidelines for surveillance, containment and caution will be effective from 1 December, and will remain in force up to the year-end, the ministry said.

There will be continued restrictions on activities, such as international air travel, and 50% occupancy of cinema halls and theatres, while swimming pools, training of sports persons and exhibition halls will be allowed to operate only for business to business (B2B) purposes, the MHA said.

Gatherings at religious, social, entertainment, educational and sports events will also be capped at 50% of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 people in closed spaces. For open spaces, gatherings will be allowed on the basis of the size of the ground.

“However, based on their assessment of the situation, state and UT governments may reduce the ceiling to 100 persons or less in closed spaces," the MHA said.

The ministry said states and UTs must also enforce social distancing at workplaces. “In cities, where the weekly case positivity rate is over 10%, states and UTs must consider implementing staggered office timings and other suitable measures, with a view to reduce the number of employees attending office at the same time, thereby ensuring social distancing," it said.

The main focus of the guidelines has been to consolidate the substantial gains achieved against covid-19, which is visible in the steady decline in the number of active cases in India, the MHA said.

Keeping in view the recent spike in new cases in certain states and UTs, the ongoing festivities and the onset of the winter, caution must be maintained and containment strategies must be strictly followed to overcome the pandemic. Local authorities must also increase surveillance, containment and strict observance of the standard operating procedures issued by MHA and the Union health ministry, it said.

On Wednesday, India’s covid-19 count stood at 9,223,698, with 135,782 deaths. The active caseload (444,746) was at 4.82% of total positive cases. In the past 24 hours, 44,376 new cases were recorded, with 10 states and UTs accounting for 76.51% of the new cases. Delhi reported the highest with 6,224 confirmed cases, and 109 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Maharashtra recorded 5,439 new cases, while Kerala reported 5,420 daily cases. 4.22% of the 481 case fatalities reported in the past 24 hours are in 10 states/UTs.

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