Unlock 1.0 kicks in: Hotels, malls, places of worship to open from June 8

Countdown begins for the footfalls
The Centre on Saturday eased the lockdown curbs significantly while announcing what it said was ‘’unlock 1’’ with an “economic focus”. With this, the Centre has outlined a plan to reopen nearly all activities outside of containment zones starting Monday. Places of worship, hotels, restaurants and malls can resume business by June 8, it has said. Coinciding with this, some states have extended the lockdown for 15 to 30 days.

 

For areas in containment zones, the Centre has extended the lockdown till June 30. It’s up to the local authorities to demarcate containment and buffer zones. According to available data, Delhi has 122 containment zones including in commercial and residential areas, while Mumbai has 684. Around 90 per cent of the containment zones in Mumbai are in slums and chawls, including 11 in Dharavi. Kolkata had 286 such zones before the onset of cyclone Amphan, Bengaluru has 25, Pune 65 and Pimpri Chinchwad another 46. With lockdown 4.0 ending on Sunday, the Centre has issued detailed guidelines for phased reopening of all prohibited activities.

 

Amid state governments imposing restrictions on inter-state travel, the Centre has suggested that there will be unrestricted inter-state and intra-state movement of people and goods.

 

It said no special permissions of permits will be required for such travel. However, state governments can still regulate movement of people  based on their assessment,  but have been asked to give it wide publicity.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) will issue standard operating procedures to ensure social distancing. However, large congregations, including at weddings and funerals will continue to be banned.

 

In phase two, schools, colleges and other educational and training institutions can reopen in July, but the decision will be taken in consultation with states and union territories, which in turn have been asked to consult stakeholders, including schools and parents.

 

 

However, the following activities will continue to be prohibited — international air travel, metro rail services, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, bars, auditoriums, and political, religious, academic, cultural events as well as other large congregations.

 

 The Centre said that based on the assessment of the situation, dates for reopening of these activities will be decided in phase three.

 

Instead of 7 pm to 7am, night curfew will now be imposed between 9 pm and 5 am throughout the country except for essential activities.

 

While only essential activities have been allowed in containment zones until June 30, state governments, based on their assessment, have been empowered to ban certain activities event outside the containment zones.

 

Apart from fresh guidelines, the government reiterated precautions that need to be taken. It has recommended employers and district authorities to have people install the Aarogya Setu App.

 

The guidelines have suggested wearing of masks, frequent sanitization, social distancing, and encouraged work from home and staggered working hours. Spitting in public places, consumption of paan, gutkha, liquor and tobacco remain banned.

 

In containment zones, only essential activities will be allowed and access strictly controlled with intensive contact tracing and house-to-house surveillance, the government said.

 

Several state governments and industry groups, particularly the restaurant and hotel industry, had demanded reopening of more economic activities. The hospitality industry has welcomed the unlocking of the lockdown.

 

Nakul Anand, executive director at ITC and chairman, FAITH (Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality), said, ‘’We would like to thank the Government of India for reallowing commencement of business operations of hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services.’’ Acknowledging the role of the Ministry of Tourism and Niti Ayog for flagging the sectoral concerns, he said, ‘’we look forward to closely working with Ministry of Tourism and with state governments for harmonizing opening guidelines and for generating domestic tourism demand during unlock 1 and unlock 2.’’

 

Pushpa Bector, executive director, DLF Shopping Mall, said, “We have overhauled the entire operating procedure and set stringent norms to maintain social distancing within the premises.’’ Among other things, it would allow only one person per 75 sq ft, while putting roll overs on escalators so that there is a gap of three steps between every two persons on escalators. Also, only three people will be allowed per elevator at a time. In addition, it would  limit the number of people visiting each store at a time, besides an app for social distancing.

 

Nishant Pitti, CEO, EasyMyTrip, said it would further enhance the sentiments in the industry. ‘’This will provide relief to the hospitality sector but owing to high rentals and low demand, I expect that around 50 per cent of the restaurants will still not resume operations. Although restaurants contributed around 20 per cent of the revenue received from travellers, this business will slowly come to pace with the increase in positive sentiments among people,’’ he said.

 

The order also mentioned that the dates for re-starting of international air travel will be decided based on the assessment of the situation.

 

Amitabh Taneja, chairman, Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI), said: "We have made a stringent set of SOPs which are submitted to the MHA as well as the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The relaxation is certainly going to help ease an unimaginable amount of pressure that was put on the industry following the lockdown.’’ Revival and resurgence is a long process, which has just about begun, he said.

 



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