Centre issues new COVID-19 guidelines to be effective from December 1; check relaxations and restrictions

As the COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the Centre has issued fresh guidelines that will be effective from December 1.

Centre issues new COVID-19 guidelines to be effective from December 1; check relaxations and restrictions

Amid the spurt of COVID-19 cases, the Centre on Wednesday issued new guidelines effective from December 1. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the fresh guidelines for COVID-19 surveillance asked the states to strictly enforce containment measures and regulate the crowd. The guidelines will be effective from December 1 to December 31.

The states and union territories based on their assessment of COVID-19 situation can impose local restrictions like night curfew only in containment zones. The state governments will have to take permission from the Centre if they want to impose any local lockdown outside the containment zones.

An official order read, "States/ UTs to ensure careful demarcation of Containment Zones by the district authorities, at the micro-level, taking into consideration the guidelines prescribed by MoHFW in this regard. The list of Containment Zones will be notified on the websites by the respective District Collectors and by the States/ UTs. This list will also be shared with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW)."

Within the demarcated Containment Zones, containment measures, as prescribed by MoHFW, will be scrupulously followed, which includes allowing only essential activities in the containment zones. 

"There will be strict perimeter control to ensure that there is no movement of people in or out of these zones, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining the supply of essential goods and services. There will be intensive house-to-house surveillance by surveillance teams formed for the purpose," read the order further.

Testing will be carried out as per the prescribed protocol. "Listing of contacts will be carried out in respect of all persons found positive, along with their tracking, identification, quarantine and follow up of contacts for 14 days (80 per cent of contacts to be traced in 72 hours)."

It added that quick isolation of COVID-19 patients will be ensured in treatment facilities/ home (subject to fulfilling the home isolation guidelines). Clinical interventions, as prescribed, will be administered. Surveillance for ILI/ SARI cases shall be carried out in health facilities or outreach mobile units or through fever clinics in buffer zones.

Awareness will be created in communities on COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. Local district, police and municipal authorities will be responsible to ensure that the prescribed Containment measures are strictly followed and State/ UT Governments will ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard.

The state and UT governments will take all necessary measures to promote COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and to ensure strict enforcement of wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing. In order to enforce the core requirement of wearing of face masks, authorities may consider administrative actions, including the imposition of appropriate fines, on persons not wearing face masks in public and workspaces.

For observance of social distancing in crowded places, especially in markets, weekly bazaars and public transport, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) will issue an SOP, which will be strictly enforced by states and UTs. National Directives for COVID-19 management will continue to be followed throughout the country, so as to enforce COVID-19 appropriate behaviour.

All activities have been permitted outside Containment Zones, except for the following, which have been permitted with certain restrictions: International air travel of passengers, as permitted by MHA; cinema halls and theatres, with up to 50 per cent capacity; swimming pools, only for the training of sportspersons; exhibition halls, only for business to business (B2B) purposes.

Social/ religious/ sports/ entertainment/ educational/ cultural/ religious gatherings, with up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces; and keeping of the size of the ground/ space in the view, in open spaces. However, based on their assessment of the situation, State/ UT Governments may reduce the ceiling to 100 persons or less, in closed spaces.

For the information of all, the guidelines enclose a list of 19 SOPs that have been issued from time to time to regulate the activities that have been permitted. These SOPs will be strictly enforced by the authorities concerned, who shall be responsible for their strict observance.

States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions, with a view to containing the spread of COVID-19 such as night curfew. However, State/ UT Governments will not impose any local lockdown (State/ District/ sub-division/City level), outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the Central Government. 

States and UTs also need to enforce social distancing in offices. In cities, where the weekly Case Positivity Rate is in more than 10 per cent, States and UTs concerned shall consider implementing staggered office timings and other suitable measures, with a view to reducing the number of employees attending office at the same time, thereby ensuring social distancing.

There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

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Vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, are advised to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes. The use of Aarogya Setu mobile application will continue to be encouraged.

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