The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today issued Covid- 19 guidelines for the month of February, which focus on Surveillance, Containment and Caution, and seek to consolidate the gains made against the pandemic.

An MHA order said there was a steady decline in the number of active and new cases in the country over the last four months.

“It is, therefore, emphasised that to fully overcome the pandemic, there is need to maintain caution and to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy,” the MHA said.

Cinema halls and theatres have already been permitted up to 50 per cent of seating capacity. Now they will be permitted to operate at higher seating capacity, for which a revised SOP will be issued by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in consultation with MHA.

Now gatherings for different purposes outside the containment zones will be allowed subject to standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the State/UT concerned.

At present, social/ religious/ sports/ entertainment/ educational/ cultural/ religious gatherings are permitted up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces. In the open spaces, this is in keeping with the size of the ground.

For further opening up of international air travel of passengers, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) may take a decision in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs based on the assessment of the situation, the order said.

Containment Zones, if required, shall be carefully demarcated by the district authorities at the micro level, taking into consideration guidelines prescribed.

Local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed Containment measures are strictly followed and State/ UT Governments shall ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard, the MHA order said.

State/ UT Governments shall take all necessary measures to promote COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and ensure wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.

Business to Business (B2B) exhibition halls have already been permitted. Now all types of exhibition halls will be permitted, for which a revised SOP will be issued by the Department of Commerce in consultation with MHA.

SOPs, as updated from time to time, have been prescribed for various activities. These include: movement by passenger trains; air travel; metro trains; schools; higher educational institutions; hotels and restaurants; shopping malls, multiplexes and entertainment parks; yoga centres and gymnasiums, etc.