India to reopen cinemas, schools even as Covid-19 curve refuses to flatten

New Delhi, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- The government of India on Wednesday authorized the reopening of cinema halls and schools within the next few days, lifting almost all lockdown restrictions to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, despite the infection curve continuing to rise with around 6.2 million cases and almost 100,000 deaths.

The ministry of home affairs on Wednesday published guidelines for the phase 5 of the gradual reopening of activities, which allowed schools and coaching institutions to be opened from Oct. 15 onwards, although the final decision on the matter has been left to regional governments based on their assessment of the situation.

Cinema halls will also be allowed to function from the same date, with attendance restricted to 50 percent of their seating capacity.

The order is also set to ease restrictions on indoor public gatherings, currently limited to 100 people, from Oct. 15, with convention centers and meeting halls being allowed to host up to 200 people, only if this figure represents 50 percent or less of the seating capacity.

Open-air gatherings have been allowed irrespective of size if they comply with health measures, the use of face masks, provisions for thermal scanning and distancing.

Similar measures have also been announced for sports complexes and swimming pools for sportspersons.

The relaxation comes ahead of the long Indian festive season, which usually consists of large events and provides an important boost for the local trade and economy.

India has lifted almost all Covid-19 restrictions, only continuing strict measures within areas declared as high-risk, in an attempt to boost economic activity.

Restrictions on international flights have also been extended, except for purposes of repatriation and through special travel bubbles with specific countries, with such arrangements currently in place with around a dozen countries through bilateral agreements.

According to official figures, more than 80,000 new coronavirus cases were reported in the last 24 hours ending Wednesday, while the total death toll has climbed past 97,000.

India has registered more than 3 million new infections since Aug. 30, when the government had issued the guidelines for phase 4 of the reopening, allowing metro trains to resume across cities in the country. EFE-EPA


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