The Union home ministry's Unlock 5.0 guidelines are expected soon, with the Unlock 4.0 phase ending on 30 September.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently advised states to focus on micro-containment zones to control COVID-19 and allow economic activities in other areas. Therefore, there is a possibility that the upcoming guidelines will further reduce restrictions on various activities.
The Unlock 5.0 guidelines also assume significance as they are expected to be applicable throughout October " when the festival season begins. The festivals of Navratri, Durga Puja and Dussehra are in October, and businesses are expected to pick up during this time.
Following are the sectors on which guidelines are expected during the Unlock 5.0 phase:
In the past two months, some tourist sites have been allowed to open, with some restrictions. For instance, in July, the Taj Mahal was allowed to open, with restrictions such as social distancing and a limit of 5,000 visitors at a time. Recently, the Uttarakhand government allowed tourists to enter the state without having to go into institutional quarantine, as noted in a Hindustan Times report. The Sikkim government has also allowed hotels and homestays to restart operations from 10 October.
With tourism being among the worst-hit sectors of the economy, there is a possibility that some relaxations could be granted for this sector.
As of now, the home ministry has only allowed open-air theatres to resume operations. However, on Saturday, the West Bengal government said that it will allow cinema halls to reopen and also allow music and dance performances from 1 October.
However, it remains to be seen what the guidelines of the Centre are on allowing cinema halls to reopen.
As part of the Unlock 4.0 guidelines, schools were allowed to partially reopen for students from Classes 9 to 12 from 21 September. However, the schools were allowed to remain open for students only on a voluntary basis to enable them to take guidance form their teachers. The health ministry, in its SOPs for schools, has stated that a seating arrangement has to be made to ensure a distance of 6 feet between chairs, desks etc and the teaching faculty have to ensure that they themselves and students wear masks throughout the conduct of the teaching/guidance activities.
Therefore, there is a possibility that further relaxations may be given for academic activities in the upcoming guidelines.
What did the Unlock 4.0 guidelines say?
In the Unlock 4.0 phase, metro trains were allowed to resume services from 7 September in a graded manner, while political, social and religious congregations of up to 100 people were permitted from 21 September.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had also said in a directive that state governments cannot impose any local lockdown outside the containment zones without prior consultation with the Central Government.