India Unlock 5.0: Cinema Halls to Open from October 15!


The government of India has announced the new guidelines for Unlock-5.0 last evening, based on the inputs from the states and the union territories. As a much-awaited good news for the beleaguered entertainment industry cinema halls & multiplexes, all auditoriums/theatres, entertainment parks and swimming pools for sports activities are to open from the 15th of October 2020, outside of containment zones where lockdown is extended till 31st October. All such entertainment centres will have to operate at 50% of the respective capacity. For cultural, social, religious, sports and other gatherings the Unlock-4 maximum of 100 persons has been extended: in closed spaces the limit will be 50% of capacity or a maximum of 200 persons while in open spaces or grounds there is no ceiling set, but the size of the ground must be considered, and all norms of masking, social distancing and thermal scanning must be adhered to. All these guidelines are to take effect from October 15. SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for all the activities are to be issued by the respective central ministries.


Unlock 4.0 allowed states/UTs to open schools partially from 21st September with not more than 50% of teachers and students of 9-12 classes allowed to attend. Now, as per the new guidelines the decision to open schools in a graded manner from 15th October has been bestowed on the states/UTs. Online classes would still be preferred and students who want to attend schools can do so with the consent letters of parents. States and Union Territories can either open schools from that date or from a later date as per their discretion. While the opening colleges has still not being decided, decision to hold classes for PG students and research scholars involving labs can be taken in consultation with the Department of Higher Education. For centrally funded educational institutions the heads of the institutions can take similar decisions in this regard.


The only service that still remains shut is that of international flight, except for the flights under Vande Bharat and India’s air bubble arrangement with 13 countries. Indian Railway is back to almost normal with regular trains services operating.  


Meanwhile, the government of Maharashtra, while extending lockdown till 31st October in containment zones, has decided to open hotels, food courts, restaurants and bars from the 5th of October only allowing 50% of their capacity. However, metro train services, full local train services, schools and colleges, cinema halls/multiplexes/swimming pools/entertainment parks/gyms, all sorts of large congregations and religious places would continue to remain shut till 31st October in the state. As per latest reports the state government is mulling the resumption of local train services for all common people from 15th October. Railway services of regular trains within the state boundary, originating and terminating in stations within the state, is being allowed.


For the last twenty-four hours India recorded 86,821 new COVID-19 cases with the recoveries again coming down to around 85 thousand. Huge hopes were created on the 29th of September 2020 when India’s new cases came down to the seventies with recoveries over 80 thousand and fatalities coming below 1000, at 776, for the first time in months. Unfortunately, from next day onward deaths went back to 1100+ numbers with recorded deaths of 1181 for the last twenty-four hours. For that same golden day Maharashtra recorded only around 11 thousand new cases while recoveries were more than 19 thousand and deaths coming below 200 for the first time in a month. However, this too proved to be false hopes. Total deaths due to COVID-19 in India now stand at 98,678, fast nearing the ominous 1 lakh mark.


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