Unlock 5: From reopening theaters to schools- Center pours major relaxations! What you must know?

Union Ministry of Home Affairs has, on Wednesday, issued fresh guidelines for unlocking the nation from the unprecedented experiment of lockdown, that was imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fresh guidelines would be the fifth phase of the government's mechanism to have a gradual exit from the lockdown amid the grounds of the rapid spread of the viral infection. 

The mechanism of Unlock 5 has come with parameters of the road ahead for the nation in October and to restore normalcy across its territory. The Home Ministry has rolled out the guidelines through which it had poured major relaxations and permitted the resumption of the long-halted services. According to the guidelines, the Central government has permitted to resume theaters and cinema halls from October 15. 

In what has become a huge relaxation on the entertainment corridors as the theaters would be re-opening after over six months, the Home Affairs had mandated that the theaters and cinema halls must function with 50 percent of seating capacity and the standard operating procedure (SOP) will be released, concerning the resumption of the theaters, by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 

Along with the theaters, the 'Unlock 5' guidelines had also permitted the resumption of schools and coaching institutions from October 15. By highlighting that the schools can be re-opened in a phased manner, the Home Ministry stated that the decision on resuming the schools has been vested with the respective state governments and the governments can take a final call after consulting with the concerned stakeholders including the school managements and parents based on the situation. The state and UT governments would be preparing the SOPs for the resumption of the schools based on the on-ground situation and the Center has instructed the states to ensure that the SOPs are strictly followed.

The guidelines further stated that the attendance must not be enforced on the students and pupils can attend the schools and educational institutions after acquiring proper consent from their parents. Regarding the resumption of colleges, the Union Ministry of Education will be deciding on the resumption of colleges and higher institutions by consulting the Home Ministry and based on the assessment of the situation. The guidelines also said that Business to Business exhibitions will be permitted to open and the Department of Commerce will be issuing the SOP regarding the resumption. 

One of the major relaxations in the unlock phase would be the resumption of the entertainment and amusement parks. The parks would be resumed, which would be a huge relief for such establishments. The guidelines stated that the swimming pools would be re-opened for training purposes and the SOP regarding the same would be released by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.  

Though the colleges aren't permitted to resume, the Home Ministry had allowed to re-open the Higher Education Institutions from October 15, only for the research scholars (Ph.D.) and for postgraduate students in science and technology who require experimental and laboratory works. These institutions would be functioning as per the decision and SOP of the respective state and UT governments. 

The Home Ministry has allowed the states and UTs to permit academic, sports, social, cultural, religious, entertainment, and political events and functions outside the containment zones. The Ministry has issued regulations for the same in which it had manded that a maximum of 50% of the capacity or maximum of 200 persons will be allowed in indoor and closed halls and spaces whereas, in the open spaces, such events must ensure the grounds of social distancing by keeping the size of such spaces. 

The Home Ministry has stated that there shall be no restriction on the inter and intra-state movement of people and goods. No separate consent, approval, or e-permit from the governments will be required and the guidelines will be effective till October 31. The lockdown shall continue its role in the containment zones and the Home Ministry further directed the state governments not to impose any lockdown and restrictions outside the containment zones without prior consultation from the Central government. 

The Central government has imposed an unprecedented experiment of the nationwide lockdown on March 25 as weaponry to fight the spread of the global pandemic. The nation was under complete lockdown till May 31 and the Center has rolled out the mechanism of unlocking the lockdown from June 1 and now the Center has issued the guidelines as the fifth phase of unlocking the lockdown and to restore pre-COVID normalcy in the country.