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50% limit lifted for movie theaters and pools open to all India News

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NEW DELHI: With Covid-19 cases in the country steadily declining over the past four months, on Wednesday the Interior Ministry further relaxed surveillance, containment, and precaution guidelines, allowing Union states and territories to decide on the scope of assistance to Social, cultural and religious gatherings, rescinding the 50% occupancy limit for movie theaters and launching swimming pools open to all. Relaxations will be applied to areas outside of the containment zones.
Importantly, the MHA opened the door for consideration of more international passenger air travel, saying that the civil aviation ministry can make a decision in consultation with the interior ministry depending on the assessment of the situation.
While it extended the guidelines until February 28, the ministry, for the first time since March 2020, refrained from counseling people over 65, people with comorbidities, pregnant women, and children under 10 who stay home. except for essential and sanitary purposes. The new guidelines simply advise these vulnerable categories to take the necessary precautions, without specifying that they should try to stay home.
All activities are now allowed outside of the containment zones, except a few that will be subject to strict adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs). Social and other gatherings need not be limited to the prior restriction of 50% of the capacity of the room with a ceiling of 200 people in closed spaces. States and UT may, as of February 1, allow such meetings subject to their own SOPs and the Center no longer plays a role in setting the rules.
Movie theaters and theaters, which were allowed up to 50% of seating capacity through January 31, will be able to operate at increased capacity subject to a revised SOP to be issued by the I&B ministry in consultation with the MHA . This will be a relief for the film and entertainment industry that is currently reeling from the impact of Covid-19. In fact, some states like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal had issued orders allowing full seating capacity in movie theaters, but the Interior Ministry reminded them of the 50% limit. All states and UT must follow the Center’s guidelines under the National Disaster Management Act.
The swimming pools, currently allowed only for the use of athletes, will be open to everyone from February 1, for which the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports will issue updated SOPs.
All types of showrooms have been allowed to function and not just business-to-business (B2B) rooms based on revised SOPs to be issued by the department of commerce in consultation with the MHA.
Meanwhile, state and UT governments have been asked to take all necessary steps to promote appropriate Covid behavior and ensure the use of face masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing. The national directives for the management of Covid-19 throughout the country will continue to be followed.
There will be no restrictions on the interstate and intrastate movement of people and goods, including those for cross-border trade under treaties with neighboring countries, the MHA said.

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