Shoppers walk at a shopping mall in New Delhi. File / Reuters
In further relaxation of controls imposed to combat the spread of coronavirus, India’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar on Sunday announced that "the restrictions put in place due to COVID-19 are on the verge of ending."
Javadekar made the announcement while permitting cinema halls to operate at full capacity from Monday. He added that sanitisation and COVID-19 protocols will have to continue to be adhered to.
"Respiratory etiquettes must be followed, including use of face masks, adequate social distancing of at least six feet to be followed. Spitting will be prohibited and usage of Aarogya Setu app. will be encouraged."
Aarogya Setu is a mobile phone app. developed for the Indian government for checking COVID-19 risk factors.
Last week, in new "Guidelines for Surveillance, Containment and Caution," the Ministry of Home Affairs here had indicated that cinema halls and theatres will be permitted to operate at "higher" seating capacity. But it came as a surprise that they will be allowed to have 100 per cent seating, which indicates growing confidence here that the pandemic is under control.
Javadekar said the relaxations do not apply to "containment zones," which are locations identified with a high incidence of COVID-19 cases. "No exhibition of films shall be allowed in containment zones."
In a shot in the arm for regional cooperation in South Asia, the new guidelines said "there shall be no restriction on the movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission, approval or e-permits will be required for such movements."
According to data released by the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry on Saturday, the total caseload rose to 30,183,143 cases as India. This is the ninth consecutive day in the last two months when the death toll has been below the 2,000-mark.
A rare disease in normal times, authorities say thousands have developed Mucormycosis — or black fungus — across India as it battles a COVID-19 wave that has killed more than 100,000 people in the past month.
Some experts say the number that though massive is still thought to be a vast undercount because of a lack of testing and reporting.
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