NEW DELHI :
Visiting shopping malls is set to be a different experience from now on and ditto places of worship, according to standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the health ministry on Thursday to ease the nation into Unlock 1.0.
The SOPs for workplaces, shopping malls, religious places, hotels and restaurants came as India looked at life after lockdown.
While all of these establishments will remain closed in containment areas, those outside will be allowed to open up under terms outlined by states.
Shopping malls are likely to be a shadow of their former bustling selves, especially for children, with gaming arcades, play areas and cinema halls ordered closed.
Religious places have been allowed to open up, but with stringent rules for worship. “Touching of statues, idols, holy books, etc., are not to be allowed. Large gatherings, congregation continue to be prohibited. In view of potential threat of spread of infection, as far as feasible, recorded devotional music and songs may be played and choir or singing groups should not be allowed. No physical offerings like prasad or distribution or sprinkling of holy water, etc., to be allowed inside the religious place," the guidelines said.
The ministry also issued a set of SOPs for restaurants and the hospitality industry, stating that given the covid-19 outbreak, it is important that restaurants and hospitality units take suitable measures to restrict any further transmission of the virus while providing restaurant services.
According to the SOPs for restaurants, takeaways should be encouraged, instead of dine-in. Food delivery personnel should leave the packet at the customer’s door. Direct handover of the food packet to the customer will not be allowed.
“The staff for home deliveries shall be screened thermally by the restaurant authorities prior to allowing home deliveries. Seating arrangement to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained. In restaurants, not more than 50% of seating capacity to be permitted. Disposable menus are advised to be used. Instead of cloth napkins, use of good quality disposable paper napkins to be encouraged," the SOPs read.
With the hospitality industry facing major losses, the government has allowed it to open up. The guidelines state in hotels, room service or takeaways should be encouraged, instead of encouraging guests to dine at restaurants or cafes.
In its SOPs for offices, the ministry said that workplaces are relatively close settings, with shared spaces like work stations, corridors, elevators and stairs, parking places, cafeteria, meeting rooms and conference halls. The SOPs stipulate staggering of office hours, lunch hours and coffee breaks. Any shops, stalls, cafeteria, etc., outside and within the office premises shall follow social distancing norms at all times. Seating arrangement should be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained.
The number of people in lifts shall be restricted, again maintaining social distancing. Temperature settings for all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degrees Celsius; relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate. Proper crowd management in parking areas and outside the premises must be ensured. People above 65 years of age, those with comorbidities and pregnant women have been advised to stay at home, except for essential and health purposes.