The Union government has issued a new set of guidelines for containment zones and for implementing COVID-appropriate behaviour in states and Union Territories (UTs).
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was compelled to declare the new rules for a period between December 1 and December 31 due to a sudden spike in cases of novel coronavirus in Maharashtra, Delhi and some other states following the festival season.
The MHA said the new containment measures would have to be strictly implemented by the local authorities, including district, police and municipality. States and UTs may impose restrictions such as night curfew to contain the spread of virus based on their own assessment, the MHA said. But the states will have to speak with the Union government if they want to impose a local lockdown outside the containment zones.
As per the new guidelines, the following activities are allowed inside/outside of containment zones:
* Only essential activities permitted in containment zones.
* Strict perimeter control so that there is no movement of people in or out of these zones, except for medical emergencies and supply of essential goods.
* Intensive house-to-house surveillance.
* Intensive testing.
* Strict contact tracing of all persons found positive with quarantine and follow up of contacts for 14 days (80 per cent of contacts to be traced in 72 hours).
* Immediate quarantine of COVID-19 patients with facilities as an option for home treatment.
* Surveillance for ILI/SARI cases shall be carried out in health facilities in buffer zones.
* Community awareness on COVID-appropriate behaviour.
Besides, the MHA has again asked states to strictly implement wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing. In case people do not fall in line, the MHA has asked states/UTs to charge heavy fines.
The Ministry of Home Affairs will soon introduce new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for states/UTs to maintain appropriate social distancing in crowded places.
All activities will be permitted outside containment zones, except the following which are restricted or suspended till further orders.
* International air travel of passengers, as permitted by MHA.
* Cinema halls and theatres, with up to 50 percent capacity.
* Swimming pools, only for training of sportspersons.
* Exhibition halls, only for business to business (B2B) purposes.
* Social/ religious/sports/entertainment/educational/cultural/religious gatherings, with up to a maximum of 50 per cent of hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces; and in open spaces by keeping of the size of the ground/space in view.