Colleges, educational and coaching institutions will continue to remain closed for students and regular classes till September 30

Under Unlock 4, metro rail services will resume in a graded manner beginning September 7, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced today. The new guidelines released by the ministry also permit political, religious, social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural functions and other congregations from September 21.

These gatherings will, however, be subject to a cap of 100 persons, said the Unlock 4 guidelines for non-Containment Zones which come into effect from September 1. Open air theatres will also be allowed to open from September 21.

However, schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions will continue to remain closed for students and regular class activity till September 30.

Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres (excluding open air theatre) and similar places will also remain closed. International air travel of passengers, except as permitted by MHA, will not be allowed as of now.

The new guidelines are based on feedback received from States and Union Territories, and extensive consultations held with related central ministries and departments, the ministry said.

Metro rail will be allowed to operate by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the Ministry of Railways in consultation with MHA. In this regard, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be issued by the housing ministry.

Limited gatherings can be held with mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer.

Some relaxations for students, educational institutions

Online/distance learning shall continue to be permitted and shall be encouraged. However, following will be permitted, in areas outside the Containment Zones only, with effect from September 21 for which, SOP will be issued by the health ministry:

States/ UTs may permit upto 50% of teaching and non-teaching staff to be called to the schools at a time for online teaching/ tele- counselling and related work.

Students of classes 9 to 12 may be permitted to visit their schools, in areas outside the Containment Zones only, on a voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers. This will be subject to written consent of their parents/ guardians.

Skill or Entrepreneurship training will be permitted in National Skill Training Institutes, Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Short-term training centres registered with National Skill Development Corporation or State Skill Development Missions or other Ministries of Government of India or State Governments.

National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD), Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) and their training providers will also be permitted.

Higher Education Institutions only for research scholars (Ph.D.) and post-graduate students of technical and professional programmes requiring laboratory/ experimental works. These will be permitted by the Department of Higher Education (DHE) in consultation with MHA, based on the assessment of the situation, and keeping in view the incidence of COVID-19 in the States/ UTs.

Strict lockdown in Containment Zones

The ministry said that lockdown would continue to be implemented strictly in the Containment Zones till September 30. Such zones will be demarcated by the district authorities at the micro level after taking into consideration health ministry guidelines for effectively breaking the chain of transmission.

Strict containment measures will be enforced in these containment zones and only essential activities will be allowed. Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and only essential activities allowed.

State and Union Territory governments shall, however, not impose any local lockdown outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the Central Government.

The home ministry reiterated that there would be no restriction on Inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission, approval or e-permit will be required for such movement, it added.