To consolidate the substantial gains that have been achieved against the spread of COVID-19, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday issued fresh guidelines, which effective from February 1, allows activities outside containment zones.

The guidelines for ‘Surveillance, Containment and Caution’ will remain in force till February 28, 2021.

According to the Ministry, the substantial gains are visible in the steady decline in the number of active and new cases in the country over the last four months.

It further said all activities are now permitted outside containment zones and urged the people for strict adherence to the new standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued for containment zones.

“It is, therefore emphasized that to fully overcome the pandemic, there is need to maintain caution and to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy focussed on surveillance, containment and strict observance of the guidelines/ SOPs issued by MHA and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW),” the official notification read.

“Cinema halls and theatres have already been permitted upto 50 per cent of seating capacity. Now they will be permitted to operate at higher seating capacity, for which a revised SOP will be issued by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in consultation with MHA,” it stated.

According to the notification, the swimming pools will now be permitted for everyone’s use, for which a revised SOP will be issued by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MoYA&S) in consultation with MHA.

“Business to Business (B2B) exhibition halls have already been permitted. Now all types of exhibition halls will be permitted, for which a revised SOP will be issued by the Department of Commerce in consultation with MHA,” it stated.

MHA further said the opening of international air travel of passengers along with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) may take a decision based on the assessment of the situation.

However, social, religious, sports, entertainment, educational, cultural, religious gatherings have already been permitted upto a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces, and keeping of the size of the ground or space in view, in open spaces.

“Now such gatherings will be allowed subject to SOP of the State and UT concerned,” it added.

The ministry further informed that there will be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries.

“No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements. Use of Aarogya Setu has been encouraged,” the notification added. (ANI)