Health Ministry releases SOPs for functioning of malls, religious places, hotels

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), on June 4, releases Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the functioning of hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, religious places and offices outside containment zones. However, the SOP clearly states that such facilities in the containment zones shall remain closed, except for medical and essential services.

According to the Health Ministry, such establishments are allowed to resume operations only outside the containment zones. Also, only asymptomatic staff members, guests and visitors are allowed to access to the facilities and gathering or crowding of any kind has been strictly restricted. Moreover, people aged 65 or above and children aged below 10, those with comorbidities, and pregnant women have been advised to stay home unless for essential and medical purposes.

The people visiting shopping malls, markets, hotels and even the staff members working at these facilities will be allowed access only if they are using masks or face cover, read the SOP. For those employees who are at higher risk like pregnant women, those with medical conditions, old aged employees should not be allocated with any front-line work and extra precautions should be taken. The management should try and facilitate work from home wherever feasible.

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For shopping malls, the use of escalators is allowed considering one person at every alternate step. The temperature of air conditioner should be in between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius. Cross ventilation and and intake of fresh air should be there as much as possible. The SOP also added that gaming arcades, children’s play area and cinema halls in shopping malls shall remain shut.

For restaurants, the SOPs states that takeaways and home delivery should be promoted instead of dine-in. The delivery boy should leave the packet at the doorstep to ensure contactless delivery.

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For religious places, the common prayer mats should be avoided and devotees should bring their own prayer mats or an alternative which they may carry back. Furthermore, no distribution of offering like prasad, the sprinkling of holy water should be avoided. Also, it should be ensured that physical distancing is followed at community kitchens, langars and during “ann-daan” at religious places and also while preparing and distributing food. Moreover, the devotees should prefer taking out shoes and footwear inside their own vehicle, added the SOP. Keeping in mind the contagious nature of the disease, touching of statues, idols, holy books is not allowed. Also, choir and singing groups during praise and worship should be avoided, recorded songs may be played.


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