Unlock: Religious places, hotels, restaurants, malls to re-open from June 8

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NEW DELHI: Religious places and places of worship for public, hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services along with shopping malls will be permitted to open from June 8, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Saturday.

However, these facilities will not be able to resume operations inside containment zones designated by authorities in states, said a government notification.

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“In Phase I, religious places and places of worship for public, hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services, and shopping malls will be permitted to open from June 8, 2020,” said the MHA, which issued new guidelines today for phased re-opening of all activities outside the containment zones (Unlock 1).

In a press release, MHA said that the Health Ministry will issue Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)for all permitted activities in consultation with the Central Ministries/Departments concerned and other stakeholders, for ensuring social distancing and to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The guidelines will come into effect from June 1, 2020, and will be effective till June 30, 2020. MHA order of March 24, 2020, imposed a strict lockdown throughout the country. Only essential activities were permitted. All other activities were prohibited.

Subsequently, in a graded manner and keeping the overarching objective of containing the spread of COVID-19 in view, the lockdown measures have been relaxed. “New guidelines have been issued today based on extensive consultations held with States and UTs,” said the MHA.

As per the new guidelines, “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.”

“However, if a State/UT, based on reasons of public health and its assessment of the situation, proposes to regulate the movement of persons, it will give wide publicity in advance regarding the restrictions to be placed on such movement, and the related procedures to be followed,” said the MHA.

The country is under the fourth phase of lockdown which will continue till May 31. The lockdown was first enforced in March to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The nationwide lockdown that the Prime Minister had first announced on March 24 was slated to end on May 17. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on March 24 announced the nationwide lockdown for 21 days. On May 14, he extended the lockdown till May 31.

On May 1, the MHA further extended the lockdown period to two weeks beyond 4 May, with some relaxations. The Central government had also announced Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package to combat COVID-19.

According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country is 1,73,763, including 86,422 active cases. While 82,369 patients have recovered after treatment, 4,971 deaths due to the infection have been reported so far in the country.