Health ministry announces guidelines to reopen offices, restaurants and hotels

Health ministry announces guidelines to reopen offices, restaurants and hotels
Photo Credit: Pixabay
5 Jun, 2020

The centre has issued a set of guidelines for offices, religious establishments and institutions, restaurants, shopping malls, hotels and hospitality units to reopen their facilities from June 8, when the first phase of a three-part Covid-19 lockdown lifting process is set to begin. 

While wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing is mandatory for everyone, only asymptomatic people must be allowed to enter establishments, according to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) released by the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW). 

Government-backed contact tracing app Aarogya Setu must be installed and used as a generic preventive measure, to be followed “at all times”, it said. This makes the app mandatory for everyone, without explicitly saying so.

Office employees living in containment zones must work remotely till the area is denotified, it said. 

While shopping malls can be reopened, gaming arcades, children’s play areas and movie theatres housed inside will remain closed. The SOP suggests that the total number of people in an elevator be restricted, while using alternate steps on escalators to maintain distancing norms. 

Restaurants, hotels and hospitality units outside containment zones will be given permission to operate, it said. While dine-ins are discouraged, restaurants can admit upto 50% of their seating capacity ensuring social distancing. Disposable menus, paper napkins and digital payments can be used to minimise contact, it said. It encouraged no-contact delivery services.

Hotels and hospitality units will be required to follow the same SOP issued for restaurants to operate their on-premise dining services. Additionally, they have been asked to adopt contactless processes such as QR-based registration, online forms for check-in and digital payment methods. Guests must submit information such as travel history, underlying medical conditions, identification and self declaration forms.

The hospitality industry, however, does not expect to bounce back immediately. 

“We may not see occupancy in excess of 20-30% in the initial couple of months and then later, maximum of 40% for up to six months. However, this would largely depend on the opening up of the travel industry, including airlines, trains and automobiles,” Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, vice president of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India, told TechCircle.

Earlier this week, co-working space provider 91Springboards reopened 12 of its 27 offices, while budget hospitality chain OYO announced resumption of operations from June 8.