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Disposable menu, no idol-touching…

Home ministry issues standard operating protocols recommending multiple measures and restrictions specific to each site
Street vendors along a road outside Patna Railway station, during the ongoing Covid-19 nationwide lockdown, in Patna, Thursday, June 4, 2020.

G.S. Mudur   |   New Delhi   |   Published 04.06.20, 10:52 PM

Restaurants should introduce disposable menus, devotees visiting religious places should not touch the deities or holy books and mall visitors may stand only on alternate steps — one person on each — the Union health ministry said on Thursday.

Amid the country’s still growing coronavirus epidemic, the ministry issued standard operating protocols (SoPs) for opening up restaurants, religious places, shopping malls, hotels and offices hitherto closed under the lockdown, recommending multiple measures and restrictions specific to each site.

Religious places have opened in Bengal already while malls and restaurants are scheduled to be back in operation from June 8.

All SoPs recommend common or generic measures — people will need to ensure they maintain a distance of six feet from others, they will need to wear face masks, and adopt hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette everywhere.

Sites with air-conditioning would need to follow the Central Public Works Department guidelines that specify a temperature setting in the range of 24-30 degrees Celsius, relative humidity in the range of 40 to 70 per cent, intake of as much fresh air as possible and adequate cross ventilation.

Employees in malls and hotels at high risk of severe disease — such as elderly and pregnant employees and those with underlying medical disorders — have been asked to take extra precautions. They should preferably not be exposed to frontline work requiring direct contact with public.

Each of the SoPs also prescribe site-specific precautions.

Restaurants

  • Maintain physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet when queuing up for entry and inside the restaurant as far as feasible.
  • Make seating arrangements in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained.
  • In restaurants, not more than 50 per cent of seating capacity to be permitted.
  • Disposable menus are advised to be used.
  • Instead of cloth napkins, use of good quality disposable paper napkins to be encouraged.
  • Buffet service should also follow social distancing norms among patrons.

Religious places

  • Shoes/footwear to be preferably taken off inside own vehicle.
  • Specific markings may be made with sufficient distance to manage the queue and ensure social distancing on the premises.
  • Preferably separate entry and exits for visitors shall be organised.
  • Maintain physical distancing of a minimum of six feet at all times when queuing up for entry.
  • Wash hands and feet with soap and water before entering the premises.
  • Seating arrangements should ensure adequate social distancing
  • Do not allow statues, idols and holy books to be touched.
  • Large gatherings and congregation remain prohibited.
  • As far as feasible, recorded devotional music/songs may be played and choir or singing groups should not be allowed.
  • Avoid physical contact while greeting each other.
  • Common prayer mats should be avoided and devotees should bring their own prayer mat or a piece of cloth which they may take back with them.
  • No physical offerings like prasad/distribution or sprinkling of holy water to be allowed inside the religious place.
  • Community kitchens, langars and ann daan at religious places should follow physical distancing norms while preparing and distributing food.

Malls

  • Gaming arcades shall remain closed.
  • Children play areas shall remain closed.
  • Cinema halls inside shopping malls shall remain closed.
  • Staggering of visitors to be done, if possible.
  • Adequate manpower to be deployed by management for ensuring social distancing norms.
  • All employees at higher risk such as older employees, pregnant employees and employees who have underlying medical conditions, to take extra precautions. They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public.
  • Valet parking, if available, shall be operational with operating staff wearing face covers or masks and gloves as appropriate. A proper disinfection of steering, door handles and keys of the vehicles should be taken up.
  • Any shops, stalls or cafeteria outside and on the premises shall follow social distancing norms at all times.
  • Specific markings may be made with sufficient distance to manage the queue and ensure social distancing on the premises.
  • Preferably separate entry and exits for visitors, workers and goods/supplies shall be organised.
  • The staff for home deliveries shall be screened thermally by the shopping mall authorities prior to allowing home deliveries.
  • Required precautions while handling supplies, inventories and goods in the shopping mall shall be ensured. Proper queue management and disinfection shall be organised.
  • Maintain physical distancing of a minimum of six feet when queuing up for entry and inside the shopping mall as far as feasible.
  • Number of customers inside the shop to be kept at a minimum so as to maintain the physical distancing norms.
  • Seating arrangement, if any, to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained.
  • Number of people in the elevators shall be restricted, maintaining social distancing norms.
  • Use of escalators with one person on alternate steps may be encouraged.
  • Large gatherings and congregations continue to remain prohibited.
  • Effective and frequent sanitation on the premises shall be maintained with particular focus on lavatories, drinking and hand washing stations/areas.
  • Cleaning and regular disinfection (using 1 per cent sodium hypochlorite) of frequently touched surfaces (door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, benches, washroom fixtures) to be made mandatory in all malls in common areas as well as inside shops, elevators, escalators.
  • In food courts and restaurants, not more than 50 per cent of seating capacity to be permitted.
  • Food court staff / waiters 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.
  • Contactless mode of ordering and digital mode of payment (using e-wallets) to be encouraged.
  • Tables to be sanitised each time customer leaves.
  • In the kitchen, the staff should follow social distancing norms at work place.

Hotels

  • Entrance to have mandatory hand hygiene (sanitiser dispenser) and thermal screening provisions.
  • Only asymptomatic staff and guests shall be allowed.
  • Details of the guest (travel history, medical condition etc.) along with ID and self-declaration form must be provided by the guest at the reception.
  • Hand sanitisers must be kept at the reception for guests to use. Guests to sanitise hands before and after filling relevant forms.
  • Hotels must adopt contactless processes like QR code, online forms, digital payments like e-wallet for both check-in and check-out.
  • Luggage should be disinfected before sending the luggage to rooms.
  • Guests who are at higher risk such as those who are older, pregnant or those who have underlying medical conditions are advised to take extra precautions.
  • Guests should be advised not to visit areas falling within containment zone.
  • Required precautions while handling supplies, inventories and goods in the hotel shall be ensured. Proper queue management and disinfection shall be organised.
  • Appropriate personal protection gear like face covers/masks, gloves and hand sanitisers shall be made available by hotel to the staff as well as the guests.

Offices

  • Only asymptomatic staff/visitors shall be allowed.
  • Any officer and staff residing in containment zone should inform the supervisory officer and not attend the office till the containment zone is denotified.
  • Such staff should be permitted to work from home and it will not be counted as leave period.
  • Drivers shall maintain social distancing and shall follow required dos and don’ts related to Covid-19. It shall be ensured by the service providers, officers and staff that drivers residing in containment zones shall not be allowed to drive vehicles.
  • There shall be provision for disinfection of the interior of the vehicle using 1 per cent sodium hypochlorite solution/spray. A proper disinfection of steering, door handles, keys should be taken up.
  • Office management to facilitate work from home wherever feasible.
  • All officers and staff/visitors to be allowed entry only if using face cover/masks. The face cover/mask has to be worn at all times on the office premises.
  • Routine issue of visitors/temporary passes should be suspended and visitors with proper permission of the officer who they want to meet, should be allowed after being properly screened.
  • Meetings, as far as feasible, should be done through video conferencing.
  • Preferably separate entry and exit for officers, staff and visitors shall be organised.
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