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Home India 50% cap for movie halls lifted, pools open to all | India...

50% cap for movie halls lifted, pools open to all | India News

NEW DELHI: With Covid-19 cases in the country steadily declining over the past four months, the home ministry on Wednesday further eased guidelines for surveillance, containment and caution, allowing states and Union territories to decide on the extent of attendance at social, cultural and religious gatherings, rescinding the 50% occupancy limit for cinema halls and throwing open swimming pools to all. The relaxations will apply to areas outside of containment zones.
Importantly, the MHA opened the door for consideration of more international air travel of passengers, saying the civil aviation ministry may take a decision in consultation with the home ministry depending on the assessment of the situation.
While extending the guidelines till February 28, the ministry, for the first time since March 2020, refrained from advising those above 65 years of age, those with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years to stay at home, except for essential and health purposes. The new guidelines merely advise these vulnerable categories to take necessary precautions, without specifying that they should try and stay at home.
All activities are now permitted outside containment zones, except for a few that will be subject to strict adherence of standard operating procedures (SOPs). Social and other types of gatherings will not need to be limited to the previous restriction of 50% of hall capacity with a ceiling of 200 people in closed spaces. States and UTs can, starting February 1, allow such gatherings subject to their own SOPs with the Centre no longer playing a role in setting the rules.
Cinema halls and theatres, which were permitted up to 50% of seating capacity till January 31, will be allowed to operate at higher capacity subject to a revised SOP to be issued by the I&B ministry in consultation with the MHA. This will come as a relief to the film and entertainment industry currently reeling under the impact of Covid-19. In fact, some states like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal had issued orders allowing full seating capacity in cinema halls, but were reminded by the home ministry of the 50% ceiling. The Centre’s guidelines under the National Disaster Management Act need to be followed by all states and UTs.
Swimming pools, currently permitted only for use of sportspersons, will be open for all starting February 1, for which updated SOPs shall be issued by the ministry of youth affairs & sports.
All types of exhibition halls and not just business-to-business (B2B) halls have been allowed to function as per revised SOPs to be issued by the department of commerce in consultation with the MHA.
State and UT governments have, meanwhile, been asked to take all necessary measures to promote Covid-appropriate behaviour and ensure wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing. National directives for Covid-19 management shall continue to be followed throughout the country.
There shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of people and goods, including those for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries, the MHA said.

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