February 22, 2024


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Centre issues SOPs for malls: Mandatory masks, staggered entry; cinema halls, gaming arcades to remain shut

With shopping malls outside the containment zones permitted to open from June 8, the Union health ministry said on Thursday that cinema halls, gaming arcades and children play areas in these establishments will remain closed.

Thermal screening provisions will be mandatorily placed at the entrance and visitors will be allowed only if they use face cover or masks which should be worn at all times inside the premises, according to the standard operating procedures issued by the ministry to be followed in shopping malls to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Malls are frequented by a large number of people for shopping, entertainment and food. To prevent spread of COVID-19 infection, it is important that required social distancing and other preventive measures are followed, the ministry said.

According to the SOPs, hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser) and thermal screening provisions should be in place mandatorily at the entrance and only asymptomatic customers and visitors will be allowed. They should wear face cover or masks.

Posters and audio-visual media on preventive measures about COVID-19 should be displayed prominently, the ministry said.

Visitor entry to shopping malls should be allowed in a staggered manner and adequate manpower be deployed by mall management for ensuring social distancing norms, the SOPs mentioned.

All employees who are at higher risk like elderly, pregnant women and those having underlying medical conditions should take extra precautions, the ministry said.

They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public. Shopping Mall management should facilitate work from home wherever feasible.

There should be proper crowd management in the parking lots and outside the premises and preferably separate entry and exits for visitors, workers and goods/supplies shall be organized.

The staff for home deliveries should be screened thermally by the shopping mall authorities prior to allowing home deliveries and required precautions while handling supplies, inventories and goods in the shopping mall must be ensured, the SOPs stated.

Physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet, when queuing up for entry and inside the shopping mall should be maintained as far as feasible while the number of customers inside the shop should be kept at a minimum, so as to maintain the physical distancing norms.

The number of people in the elevators should be restricted and use of escalators with one person on alternate steps should be encouraged.

“For air-conditioning/ventilation, the guidelines of CPWD shall be followed which inter alia emphasises that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degree C, relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70 per cent, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate,” the SOPs said.

Large gatherings should be prohibited and effective and frequent sanitation within the premises should be maintained with particular focus on lavatories, drinking and hand washing stations.

Frequently touched surfaces like door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, benches and washroom fixtures among others in common areas as well as inside shops, elevators, escalators should be cleaned and regularly disinfected using 1 per cent sodium hypochlorite etc. mandatorily.

Deep cleaning of all washrooms shall be ensured at regular intervals.

In the food-courts, adequate crowd and queue management is to be ensured and not more than 50 per cent of seating capacity should be permitted, the SOPs underlined.

Food court staff should wear mask and hand gloves and take other required precautionary measures, the seating arrangement should ensure adequate social distancing between patrons as far as feasible and tables should be sanitized each time a customer leaves.

Gaming arcades, children play areas and cinema halls inside shopping malls shall remain closed.

The ministry sought contactless mode of ordering and digital mode of payment (using e-wallets) to be encouraged.

In case of a suspect or confirmed case in the premises, the person should be isolated and the nearest medical facility or the state or district helpline should be informed immediately.

A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district RRT/treating physician) and accordingly further action be initiated regarding management of case and the patient’s contacts and the need for disinfection.

Disinfection of the premises to be taken up if the person is found positive, the SOPs stated.

Besides, the workers and visitors should follow all precautionary measures.

Spitting should be strictly prohibited and installation and use of Aarogya Setu App shall be advised to all, the SOPs said.

The ministry advised persons aged above 65, those having comorbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 to stay at home, except for essential and health purposes.

The Home Ministry had last week said ”Unlock-1” will be initiated in the country from June 8 under which the nationwide lockdown which came into effect from March 25 will be relaxed to a great extent, including opening of shopping malls, restaurants and religious places, though strict restrictions will remain in place till June 30 in the worst-hit areas.

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