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New MHA Covid guidelines from December 1: What’s allowed, What isn’t

File photo: KM/Umar Ganie

Amidst a surge in Covid cases in many states and union territories across the country, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) released a new set of rules for “surveillance, containment, and caution” to prevent the spread of infection.

The guidelines will be implemented from December 1 and are set to remain in force till the end of the month. On the basis of their assessment of the situation on ground, states and UTs have been allowed to impose local restrictions such as night curfew, however, lockdown can’t be enforced without prior consultation with the central government.

 

With the implementation of fresh guidelines, the Centre has now given states the elbow room to impose any kind of instruction they consider apt. The MHA has reiterated that states cannot seal borders.

Here are the new guidelines:

Surveillance and Containment

1. States/UTs will ensure careful demarcation of containment zones by the district authorities. The list of containment zones will be notified on the websites by the States/ UTs.

2. Within the demarcated containment zones, containment measures, as prescribed by MoHFW, shall be followed, which include:

3. Only essential activities shall be allowed in the Containment Zones. 

4. There shall be strict perimeter control to ensure that there is no movement of people in or out of these zones, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining the supply of essential goods and services.

5. There shall be intensive house-to-house surveillance by surveillance teams formed for the purpose.

6. Testing shall be carried out as per the prescribed protocol.

7. Listing of contacts shall be carried out in respect of all persons found positive, along with their tracking, identification, and quarantine and follow-up of contacts for 14 days.

8. Quick isolation of Covid-19 patients shall be ensured in treatment facilities/homes.

9. Clinical interventions, as prescribed, shall be administered.

10. Local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed Containment measures are strictly followed.

Covid-19 appropriate behaviour

State/UT governments shall take all necessary measures to promote Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and to ensure strict enforcement of wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.

In order to enforce the core requirement of wearing of face masks, States and UTs may consider administrative actions, including the imposition of appropriate fines on persons not wearing face masks in public and workspaces. For observance of social distancing in crowded places, especially in markets, weekly bazaars and public transport, MoHFW will issue SOPs, which shall be strictly enforced by States and UTs.

National directives for Covid-19 management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, so as to enforce Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

Strict adherence to the prescribed SOPs.

All activities have been permitted outside Containment Zones, except for the following, which have been permitted with certain restrictions:

International air travel of passengers, as permitted by MHA

Cinema halls and theatres, with up to 50 per cent capacity.

Swimming pools, only for the 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 the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces; and keeping of the size of the ground/ space in the view, in open spaces.

However, based on their assessment of the situation, State/ UT Governments may reduce the ceiling to 100 persons or less, in closed spaces.

Local restrictions

States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions, with a view to containing the spread of Covid-19 such as night curfew.

However, they shall not impose any local lockdown outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the Centre.

States and UTs also need to enforce social distancing in offices. In cities, where the weekly Case Positivity Rate is more than 10%, States and UTs concerned shall consider implementing staggered office timings.

No restriction on inter-state, intra-state movement

There shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/approval/e-permit will be required for such movements.