With over over three million active COVID-19 cases, India is currently in its third phase of ‘Unlock’. In the latest guidelines issued by the Centre, restrictions on movement of individuals at night was lifted and yoga institutes and gyms have been allowed to reopen.
Metro train services, cinema halls, swimmings pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums and similar places continue remain prohibited. Schools, colleges, coaching centres are also closed until at least 31 August.
New ‘Unlock’ guidelines are expected to release by 1 September and several media reports point to the reopening of schools and colleges in the country and the restart of metro services in Delhi NCR.
Here is what we we know so far regarding the new guidelines:
Will schools and colleges reopen in Unlock 4.0?
The Centre on Monday, 17 August, framed a plan to reopen schools in a phased manner starting 1 September to 14 November, reported The Times of India.
According to the report, the decision to reopen the schools will be part of the final unlock guidelines to be issued at the end of this month. The final decision would be left to state governments on how and when they should reopen schools.
How will schools operate?
The report further states that for the first 15 days, students of Class 10 to 12 would be asked to attend school. Different sections of a class would attend schools on particular days.
For example, if a school has 4 sections, half the students of Section A and C would come on a certain days and the rest on remaining days.
All schools will likely run in shifts from 8 am-11 am and 12 pm-3pm and run on 33 percent capacity of teaching staff and students.
Will Delhi NCR metro services restart in Unlock 4.0?
Delhi NCR metro services have been suspended since 22 March in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, it is likely that it may resume in the unlock guidelines in a limited stage.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his government have been pushing for the resumption of metro services in at least the capital, if not other states.
In the past, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has reviewed several plans for passenger movement and safety. DMRC recently also launched a new contactless travel card which has auto top-up feature. This will enable the commuters to recharge the card automatically at automatic fare collection gates at the metro stations.
The CISF, which guards the metro network across the capital, has also proposed a “business continuity plan” in the past for security and safety of passengers and staff working at stations,
Passengers using the Delhi Metro, post resumption of operations, will have to take out any metallic item on their body before frisking, use face masks, have the ‘Aarogya Setu’ app, but those with flu-like symptoms won’t be allowed, as per a proposal prepared by the CISF on Thursday, 23 April.
What Do People Feel About Further Easing of Restrictions?
A recent survey by LocalCircles has found that 62 percent of parents are unwilling to send their children to attend classes at schools even if announced by the Centre in the September “Unlock” guidelines.
The LocalCircles survey is based on the responses form 25,000 people across 261 districts. It also found that only 6 percent of the respondents were willing to visit a movie theatre in the next two months and 36 percent were okay with taking a ride in a metro or local train.
On the reopening of cinema halls, only 3 percent of the respondents said they will go many times while 3 percent said they will go once or twice. 77 percent said they will not go to movie halls at all to keep themselves safe. 14 percent said they don’t go to movie theatres to watch movies.