Srinagar , June 05: As India emerges from the lockdown, the health ministry on Thursday issued guidelines for a new normal that prescribes staggered office hours, a ban on touching idols and holy books at religious places, encouraging takeaways at restaurants and closure of gaming arcades, cinema halls, children’s play areas in shopping malls.
The Health Ministry issued standard operating procedures (SOP) for offices, religious places, restaurants, shopping malls, and hotels and other hospitality units with stress on maintaining physical distancing, use of face masks, and adherence to respiratory etiquette.
Follow live updates on coronavirus As a general preventive measure, the SOPs make it mandatory to have sanitiser dispensers and thermal screening provisions at the entrance of all establishments, with entry allowed only to asymptomatic patients.
The government, while announcing the Unlock 1.0 guidelines on Sunday, has left it to the Health Ministry to issue SOPs to re-emerge from the two-and-a-half month lockdown to arrest the spread of COVID-19.
According to the SOPs for offices, officers and staff residing in containment zones have been asked not the attend office and choose work from home, entry to offices would be permitted only on wearing of face masks which has to be worn all the time.
The SOPs also encourages holding meetings through video conferencing, staggered office hours, lunch hours and coffee breaks and regular cleaning of offices and frequently touched surfaces.
At religious places, the SOPs have banned use of common prayer mats, physical contact while greeting, and choir and singing groups to minimise the threat of spread of infection.
It also bars physical offerings such as prasad, distribution or sprinkling of holy water inside a religious place and directs maintaining phyical distancing norms at community kitchens and langars.
Restaurants have been asked to use disposable menu cards, only 50 per cent to the total occupancy, use of paper napkins instead of cloth napkins and sanitisation of tables each time a customer leaves.
For shopping malls, the SOPs have asked shops to keep the number of customers at a minimum to ensure physical distancing, 50 per cent occupancy at food courts and adequate crowd and queue management.
At hotels, the SOPs encourage room service or takeaways instead of dine-in at restaurants and use of intercom or mobile phones as the preferred mode of communication between guests and in-house staff. For air-conditioning, the SOPs have prescribed setting the temperature in the range of 24-30 degrees with relative humidity in the range of 40 per cent-70 per cent, with emphasis on intake of fresh air and adequate cross ventilation.