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India gears up to unlock in a phased manner

India gears up to unlock in a phased manner

Call it Unlock 1.0 as India begins to exit the lockdown. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in a guideline issued today, allowed several activities to resume in a phased manner from June 1.

Malls, shops, hotels, restaurant and religious places can reopen from June 8. They will have to strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs), prescribed by the Health Ministry. The SOPs will be issued by the Health Ministry after consultations with other ministries and departments concerned.

The lockdown rules, however, will be applicable at all containment zones. The exit from lockdown will be undertaken in three phases.

Cinema halls, metro rail services, international air travel, gyms, swimming pools, bars, entertainment parks and theatres will remain closed in the first phase of the exit.

These will be allowed to open only after an assessment of the situation, the MHA said.

Schools and educational institutions will also remain closed.

The decision to reopen schools and colleges will be taken only after consultations with state governments, parents, teachers and other stakeholders in July.

“We are ready to resume life and economic activities, of course in an altered ecosystem. So, we will have to follow the guidelines of social distancing and hygiene in the new normal setup,” BJP’s spokesperson for economic affairs Gopal Agarwal told IN.

The MHA also said that the night curfew timing will now be between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Until now, the curfew timing was between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“These new rules are welcome as it is now critical to resume economic activities at the earliest,” a restaurant owner in Gurugram said.

Movement of people and goods within states and between states has also been allowed. However, individual state governments would also have the authority to decide on movement based on their own assessment.

Meanwhile the number of the coronavirus cases in the country has been rising rapidly. On May 30, the total number of Covid-19 cases touched 1.8 lakh..