New MHA guidelines on Covid: Strictly enforce containment measures, regulate crowd, states told

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NEW DELHI: The Union home ministry on Wednesday asked states, Union territories to strictly enforce containment measures and allow only essential activities in the containment zones.
Releasing a new set of guidelines, which shall reamin effective till December 31, the MHA has asked states to strictly enforce SOPs on various activities, Covid-appropriate behavior and exercise caution and regulate crowds.
Citing the recent spike in new cases in few States/ UTs, ongoing festival season and the onset of winter, the MHA has asked states to maintain caution and to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy.
The main focus of the guidelines is to consolidate the substantial gains that have been achieved against the spread of Covid-19 which is visible in the steady decline in number of active cases in the country, the MHA said.
States and UTs have been asked to ensure careful demarcation of containment zones by the district authorities, at the micro level, taking into consideration the guidelines prescribed by MoHFW in this regard.
Within the demarcated containment zones, containment measures, as prescribed by MoHFW, shall be scrupulously followed. These include:

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 supply of essential goods and services. Intensive house-to-house surveillance by surveillance teams formed for the purpose Testing to be carried out as per prescribed protocol. Listing of contacts to be carried out in respect of all people found positive, along with their tracking, identification, quarantine and follow up of contacts for 14 days (80 percent of contacts to be traced in 72 hours). Quick isolation of Covid-19 patients shall be ensured in treatment facilities/ home (subject to fulfilling the home isolation guidelines). Clinical interventions, as prescribed, shall be administered. Surveillance for ILI/ SARI cases shall be carried out in health facilities or outreach mobile units or through fever clinics in buffer zones. Awareness shall be created in communities on Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

The MHA has said that the local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed containment measures are strictly followed. State/ UT governments shall ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard, it said.
Covid-appropriate behavior
The centre has also asked states, UTs to take all necssary measures to promote Covid-19 appropriate behavior 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 imposition of appropriate fines, on persons not wearing face masks in public and work spaces.
For observance of social distancing in crowded places, especially in markets, weekly bazaars and public transport, ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) will issue a SOP, 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 behavior.
The Centre has allowed all activities outside the 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 upto 50 percent capacity. Swimming pools, only for training of sports persons. Exhibition halls, only for business to business (B2B) purposes. Social/ religious/ sports/ entertainment/ educational/ cultural/ religious gatherings, with upto a maximum of 50 percent of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces; and keeping of the size of the ground/ space in view, in open spaces. However, the state governments have been given the power to reduce the ceiling to 100 people or less based on their assessment of the situation.

Local restrictions
States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions, with a view to contain the spread of Covid-19 such as night curfew. However, State/ UT Governments shall not impose any local lockdown (State/ District/ sub-division/City level), outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the Central government.
Social distancing in offices
States and UTs also need to enforce social distancing in offices. In cities, where the weekly case positivity rate is in more than 10 percent, States and UTs concerned shall consider implementing staggered office timings and other suitable measures, with a view to reduce the number of employees attending office at the same time, thereby ensuring social distancing.
No restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement
There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.
Protection for vulnerable persons
Vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, are advised to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.

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