Restaurants, shopping malls, hotels and religious places on Monday threw their doors open to the public almost two and a half months after the COVID-19 induced nationwide lockdown was imposed across the country.
The businesses will, however, have to follow the stringent guidelines issued by the Health Ministry to control the spread of the highly viral disease.
As a part of the ‘Unlock 1’, the Centre has asked religious places, restaurants, malls as well as offices to thoroughly cleanse the area and adhere to social distancing norms and other protocols.
As a generic preventive measure, people above 65 years of age, children below the age of 10, persons with comorbidities and pregnant woman have been advised to stay at home.
Physical distancing of at least 6 feet has be followed as far as feasible and spitting is strictly prohibited. Only asymptomatic persons are allowed inside the premises.
The government has also called for staggered gatherings and office timings.
While entrance to religious places and malls must have hand sanitizer dispensers and thermal screening provisions, not more than 50 per cent of seating capacity is permitted at food courts and restaurants.
In a new normal, touching of statues, idols or holy books are not permitted at places of worship. The health ministry has also prohibited the use of physical offerings like prasad or distribution or sprinkling of holy water, etc. to be allowed inside religious places.
In Delhi’s Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, Gurbani was recited by Granthis on the opening of religious places on Monday.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also offered prayers at the Gorakhnath temple. He is the head priest of the temple.
With zero footfall, paucity of cash flow, movie theatres and shopping malls were the most affected sectors of the economy in the times of the pandemic
Pushpa Bector, Executive Director, DLF Shopping Malls said, “We will be instituting temperature checks at all entrances and setting up protocols for maintaining social distancing and staff.”
Bector said that not more than 3-4 customers will be allowed to enter the elevator at a time; for escalators one customer will be allowed after three steps roll over, permanent distance markers will be placed in the lifts, so people do not exceed the required capacity.
Hospitality was the first economic segment to be hit by the ongoing coronavirus crisis, much before the outbreak was declared a pandemic.
Hotel Association of India’s (HAI) Vice President K.B. Kachru said that hotels across the country are putting in place “Gold” standard operating procedures (SOP) to ensure better safety and hygiene in order to contain the spread of the virus.
The ministry also asked the restaurant owners to encourage a contactless mode of ordering and digital payments using e-wallets.
Not more than 50 per cent of seating capacity is permitted. Disposable menus are advised to be used. Restaurants have also been asked to encourage takeaways instead of dine-ins.
All staff who are at higher risk, i.e. older employees, pregnant employees and those who have underlying medical conditions, have been asked to take extra precautions.
Delhi has also allowed reopening of places of worship and restaurants in the national capital. However, hotels and banquet halls will remain closed.
Installation and use of Aarogya Setu App is mandatory for all people going to restaurants and malls and those attending religious gatherings and offices.
The coronavirus cases in the country has reached 2,56,611. Out of this 1,24,094 have recovered and 1,25,381 are active cases. The death toll in the country has reached 7,135.
In 24 hours, India recorded 9,983 new Coronavirus cases and 206 deaths.
This is the biggest single-day jump in cases as the country recorded over 9,000 cases for the sixth consecutive day.
India is the also the fifth worst Coronavirus-hit nation in the world.
On May 30, the Centre took an exit step from the 68-day nationwide lockdown, declaring that the restrictions will be limited only to containment zones up to June 30 and that the prohibited activities will be opened in a phased manner in areas outside these zones, allowing restaurants, malls, religious places and education sectors to open in a phased manner.
Lockdown 5.0 or Unlock has kicked in with some major relaxations compared to the previous phases of the lockdown including travelling between borders of states.
According to the guidelines in phase I, religious places and places of worship for public; hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services; and shopping malls are permitted to open from June 8, 2020.