Schools, cinemas, religious gatherings resume today: All you need to know

After remaining shut for nearly seven months due to the lockdown imposed across the country in view of the coronavirus pandemic, cinemas and schools across several states are set to reopen on Thursday while religious gatherings too have been allowed with restrictions.

Even as recent trends suggest the peak of the Covid-19 infection in India may be over, the latest ‘unlock’ measures – reopening of schools, cinemas and religious gatherings – pose a big risk given that Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease, may easily spread in closed spaces like movie theatres and auditoriums, children may contract the disease and take it home where there may be more vulnerable people, and if people do not remain cautious crowds at festivals may catch the infection.

Owing to the risks involved in returning to normalcy, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday said, “The next two-and-a-half months are going to be very crucial for us in our fight against corona because of the winter season and the festival season. It becomes the responsibility of every citizen to not let our guard down and follow Covid appropriate behaviour to curb spread of the infection.”

Here is everything you need to know about the latest phase of unlocking

Schools

— The Centre has allowed states to let students to get back to classrooms starting Thursday, the final call, however, remains with the state governments. A few states resumed classes from September 21, as advised by the Centre earlier.

–While schools are partially opening for Classes 9 and upwards in several states with the consent of parents, they will remain closed in Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh.

–Uttar Pradesh government has decided to reopen schools from the beginning of the next week – October 19.

Movie theatres, multiplexes

–The state governments in Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, UP, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, and Karnataka have decided to reopen cinemas. They are required to follow guidelines stated by the Centre.

–Since no fresh titles have been released ever since the pandemic began, most halls will rerun old hits. “We’ve picked some old blockbusters like Simmba, Chhichhore, Malang, Section 375 depending which movie fits best in which pocket and was preferred in that place. So, cinemas in Delhi would show a different film than a cinema in Gurugram or Kanpur,” said Kunal Sawhney, senior vice president of operations, Carnival Cinemas.

–Cinemas are allowed to operate with 50% occupancy so as to maintain adequate physical distance between people. Not only on seats, floor marking will be done at box office counters too to ensure social distancing.

–Show timings of the screenings will be staggered to avoid overcrowding. Advance bookings have also been made available for the purpose.

–People have been advised to use digital modes of payment at the theatre. Multiple sale counters for food and beverages will be open, people will be allowed to carry only packed food and no delivery will be permitted inside the auditorium.

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