Press Trust of india

Time to open economy but with caution: Centre tells states, UTs

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New Delhi: In view of a decline in COVID-19 cases, the Centre on Wednesday asked states to follow a risk assessment-based approach on the opening of economic and social activities. 

The Union Health Ministry, however, suggested necessary curbs in areas reporting over 10 per cent positivity rate or 40 per cent occupancy in either oxygen-supported or ICU beds.

The government stressed continued focus on the five-fold strategy of Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to Covid Appropriate Behaviour, while stating that a sustained and significant decline in the number of cases has been observed since the last couple of months. 

In a letter to states and union territories, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked them to ensure sufficient availability of dedicated Covid health infrastructure as per the ongoing case trajectory and also directed them to fully operationalise non-Covid health services in all health facilities.

He also underlined the need to follow the home isolation protocol for asymptomatic and mild cases, and asked to continue specific monitoring of high-risk cases.

Bhushan said gatherings and congregations — social, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious, festival-related and others — may be resumed, provided that Covid Appropriate Behaviour is duly adhered to.   

Offline classes can be resumed in academic institutions without any restrictions. However, the academic institutions may also leverage a hybrid model of education, he said.

Bhushan further said marriages and last rites may be allowed and all shopping complexes, cinema halls, restaurants and bars, sports complexes, gyms, spas, swimming pools, and religious places may be allowed to operate at full capacity. 

Public transport (railways, metros, buses, cabs) can operate without any capacity restrictions. Also, there shall be no restrictions on inter-state and intra-state movement, including transportation of essential goods. 

Further, all offices — government and private — may function without any capacity restrictions, and all industrial and scientific establishments may be allowed, he stated in the letter.

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