NEW DELHI: In a bid to curb restrictions like “

weekend lockdowns

” seen to be hurting the economy still reeling under Covid, the Unlock 4.0 guidelines released by the Centre on Saturday make it mandatory for states and UTs to consult the Centre before imposing any local lockdown in areas other than containment zones.

This guideline, according to home ministry sources, was necessary to ensure that supply chains are not disrupted by “arbitrary” lockdowns imposed at the district or city level, which tend to adversely affect free inter-state and intra-state movement of goods. Traders’ associations have also been up in arms over the weekend curbs in particular, protesting that it adversely impacts business.

In important relaxations, city Metro trains will operate with services resuming in a graded manner from September 7, while bars and restaurants can serve liquor to customers from September 1 itself. Starting September 21, social, religious, academic, sports, entertainment, religious and political functions with a

maximum congregation

of 100 people will be permitted in non-containment areas, subject to norms. Marriage functions and funerals, which at present can have maximum 50 and 20 attendees, respectively, will also have a raised ceiling of 100 attendees after September 20.

While schools and colleges will remain shut till September 30, there is an easing for Class 9 to Class 12 students who can visit schools for guidance from teachers but with the written permission of parents, while 50% teaching and other staff can be called by schools from September 21. Post-graduate students and those who need to conduct research and use labs will be allowed to attend higher education institutions. However, all this will be subject to standard operating procedures to be issued by the health ministry.

The norms will be effective from September 1-30. The advisory on local lockdowns may not go down well with some opposition-governed states that have been following their versions of containment, which vary across cities and districts in terms of extent of curbs.

“The home ministry received representations from industry associations like Ficci and CII against ‘local’ lockdowns citing their adverse impact on supply chains and resumption of economic activity on full scale. The guidelines don’t bar the state from imposing local lockdowns, they only require the Centre to be consulted before imposing them,” said an official.

While cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment marks and theatres will stay shut, open-air theatres can resume from September 21.

With guidelines lifting the ban on

public consumption

of liquor, tobacco products and gutka, bars can finally open their counters and restaurants can serve liquor from September 1.

Allowing up to 100 people at a public function will help physical campaigning and holding of rallies and public meetings for the upcoming Bihar polls and other bypolls, expected to be announced next month. The Election Commission has already allowed physical campaigning with due adherence to MHA guidelines and subject to social distancing of minimum six feet.

The lockdown will however continue to be strictly implemented in the containment zones until September 30.

Skill and entrepreneurship training institutes, including Industrial Training Institutes, will be permitted to function from September 21. International air travel will be barred, except as allowed by the MHA.

Senior citizens and children below 10 years have been advised to continue staying at home except for meeting essential needs. National Covid-19 norms still make it compulsory to wear face masks, maintain “do gaj ki doori” at public places and require shops to ensure physical distancing among customers. “Work from home” practice is to be encouraged as far as possible.

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