The guidelines also say that in higher institutions, laboratories for those pursuing PhD or post-graduation in science and technology can open from October 15, while a decision to open all colleges “may be taken” by the Department of Higher Education with the MHA.
The guidelines, which also increase the limits on gatherings indoors, while removing any cap on outdoor gatherings, now mean that the only thing barred outside containment zones are international flights, “except when permitted by the MHA.” India already has air bubble arrangements with 13 countries.
According to the new MHA guidelines, cinemas, theatres and multiplexes “will be permitted to open with up to 50% of their seating capacity, for which, SOP will be issued by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.”
Business to Business exhibitions are allowed too, as well as swimming pools “being used for sportspersons”, and entertainment parks. All of these will have SOPs issued by their governing ministries and will be permitted from October 15.
On the re-opening of schools, MHA said that “State/ UT Governments have been given the flexibility to take a decision after 15th October 2020, in a graded manner.” The decision will be taken “in consultation with the respective school/ institution management, based on their assessment of the situation.”
However, the ministry added the caveats that online learning shall continue to be the “preferred” mode of teaching and physical attendance for students can’t be enforced.
“Where schools are conducting online classes, and some students prefer to attend online classes rather than physically attend school, they may be permitted to do so. Students may attend schools/ institutions only with the written consent of parents. Attendance must not be enforced, and must depend entirely on parental consent. States /UTs will prepare their own SOP regarding health and safety precautions for reopening of schools/ institutions based on the SOP to be issued by Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education, Government of India, keeping local requirements in view,” the MHA said.
On colleges, the MHA and the Department of Higher Education may take a decision, “based on the assessment of the situation”. “For Centrally Funded Higher Education Institutions, the Head of Institution will satisfy herself/ himself that there is a genuine requirement of research scholars (Ph.D) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream for laboratory/experimental works,” the guidelines state.
The order, while extending lockdown in containment zones till October 31, says that state governments shall not impose local lockdowns outside them without consulting the Ministry. There are no restrictions on inter- and intra-state movement.