Coronavirus: Mandatory thermal screening, face mask, staggered entry in malls; Cinema halls, gaming arcades to remain shut: Centre

According to the standard operating procedures issued by the government, malls have to mandatorily carry out thermal screenings, and provide hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser). Only asymptomatic customers wearing face covers or masks will be allowed entry.

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.

Employees at higher risk of contracting the infection, like elderly, pregnant women and those having underlying medical conditions should take extra precautions. 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, the ministry said.

The circular added that 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 or supplies shall be organised.

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 six 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.

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

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 percent sodium hypochlorite, the notice said.

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 percent of seating capacity should be permitted, the SOPs underlined.

The ministry also 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 should be informed immediately.

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.

Edited by Aparajita Saxena