Health ministry issues SOP for reopening of religious places, malls, restaurants, offices


File photo: Health Ministry Press Conference (PTI)

File photo: Health Ministry Press Conference (PTI)

The Union Health Ministry on Thursday issued standard operating procedures to be followed by religious places, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels and offices to contain the spread of COVID-19 as India gears up to reopen the economy.

The preparations for reopening the economy, which has been severely hit by the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, from June 8 comes even as the death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 6,075 and cases climbed to 2,16,919 in the country.

In its morning update, the Union Health Ministry said the country registered a record spike of 9,304 new cases since Wednesday 8 AM, with 260 fatalities in this period.

India stood seventh among the nations worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic after the US, Brazil, Russia, the UK, Spain and Italy.

According to the SOPs, restaurants, hotels, places of worship and offices in COVID-19 containment zones will remain closed and only those outside these areas will be allowed to open.

Also, shopping malls located outside containment zones will be allowed to open, barring cinema halls, gaming arcades and children play areas in these establishments, the ministry said.

The standard operating procedures included measures like allowing only asymptomatic staff, guests, customers and devotees on the premises, proper crowd management and maintaining effective and frequent sanitation, with a particular focus on lavatories, drinking and hand washing stations/areas.

Frequently touched surfaces like door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, benches and washroom fixtures among others should be cleaned and regularly disinfected.

Hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser) and thermal screening provisions should be in place mandatorily at the entrance and everyone should maintain respiratory etiquettes and follow the prescribed ‘do’s and dont’s’, the ministry stated.

The SOPs advises installation and use of the Aarogya Setu app.

For air-conditioning and ventilation, the ministry said the guidelines of CPWD shall be followed which inter alia emphasises that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degrees Celsius, relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70 per cent and intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate.

According to the health ministry data, the country has registered over 8,000 new cases for the fifth day in a row.

A total of 1,04,107 patients have recovered so far, it said.

“The recovery rate is 47.99 per cent amongst COVID-19 patients,” the ministry said.

According to the ICMR, a total of 42,42,718 samples had been tested for coronavirus infection till 9 AM on June 4, with 1,39,485 samples being tested in 24 hours.

“The apex health research body, ICMR, has further ramped up the testing capacity for detecting the novel coronavirus in infected persons. The number of government labs has been increased to 498 and private labs has been increased to 212,” the ministry said.