As India readies for a new normal after a stringent 70-day nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of Coronavirus and enters Unlock 1.0 from Monday, the Union Health Ministry on Thursday released standard operating procedures (SOPs) for workplaces and urged to opt for staggered office timings.
Noting that offices are relatively close settings with shared spaces where the Coronavirus infection can spread fast among staff as well as visitors, the ministry has directed that only asymptomatic individuals should be allowed. Meanwhile, temporary passes for visitors will remain suspended.
In the detailed guidelines, the Health Ministry said that offices will remain closed in the containment zones across the country and only those outside the containment zones will be allowed to open as outlined by the states.
Outlining various generic precautionary measures to be adopted in addition to specific measures to be taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Government has advised people above 65 years of age, people with comorbidities and pregnant women to stay at home, except for essential and health purposes.
For all the establishments, the government has recommended ensuring proper social distancing norms and disinfection of spaces and wearing of masks.
Individuals are to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet as far as feasible and spitting is strictly prohibited.
Installation and use of Aarogya Setu App is mandatory for all employees.
The ministry has advised staggered office hours, lunch hours or coffee breaks, as far as feasible. It said that any shop, stall, cafeteria etc., outside and within the office premises, shall follow social distancing norms at all times.
The ministry further stated that routine issuance of visitors’ or temporary passes must be suspended and only visitors with proper permission of the official whom they want to meet are to be allowed after being properly screened.
Meetings, as far as possible, are advised to be held through video conferencing.
Any officer or staff residing in a containment zone should inform the same to the supervisory authority and not attend the office till the containment zone is denotified.
Seating arrangements need to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained, the Government order said.
It also said that the number of people in the elevators shall be restricted, duly maintaining social distancing norms for all settings.
“Also, for air-conditioning/ventilation, the guidelines of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) shall be followed which inter-alia emphasises that the temperature setting of all air-conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degrees Celsius, and relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70 per cent,” it said, adding that proper crowd management in parking lots and outside the premises — duly following social distancing norms — are to be ensured.
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, offices and education sectors to open in a phased manner.