The Centre on Monday issued guidelines for the second of a three-phase plan aimed at lifting restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), announcing that educational institutions, Metro rail services and large gatherings will continue to remain banned, even as the night curfew was relaxed by an hour to aid economic activity.
The Union home ministry released the plan, called Unlock 2, to open up more activities in areas outside containment zones, an official statement said. The new guidelines, which will come into effect from July 1, are based on feedback received from states, and consultations with central ministries and departments, it added. The current phase to ease restrictions, called Unlock 1, ends on Tuesday.
After 68 days under a lockdown to halt the spread of Covid-19, the country began opening up widely last month, but with significant restrictions. On Monday, India reported 18,318 fresh Covid-19 cases, taking the tally of infections to 567,344. There have been 16,901 deaths from the infectious disease so far.
The fresh guidelines said schools, colleges and coaching institutions will remain closed till July 31. It added that Metro rail, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places will also remain shut. Social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious functions and other large congregations will also continue to be banned.
“Dates for opening of these will be decided separately, based on the assessment of the situation,” the Centre said.
In another significant step, the Union government relaxed the night curfew prohibiting non-essential travel. The ban on such movement will be between 10pm and 5am. Previously, it was between 9pm and 5am. “Relaxations in night curfew have been given for seamless operation of industrial units in multiple shifts, movement of persons and goods on National and State Highways, loading and unloading of cargo and movement of persons to their destinations after disembarking from buses, trains and airplanes,” the guidelines said.
Domestic and international flights (under the Vande Bharat exercise) and passenger trains, already operational in a limited manner, will be further expanded in a calibrated manner, the home ministry said.
“Lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the containment zones till July