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Centre proposes nationwide closure for schools, colleges till March 31

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Karnataka locked down for a week over Coronavirus OutbreakNew Delhi, March 16 (IANS) The government on Monday issued a fresh advisory on social distancing measures in view of the growing number of coronavrius (Covid-19) cases in the country. It is also formulating a strategy as to how to go about with coronavirus casualties.

All the proposed interventions will be in force till March 31, 2020 when the government will take a call after reviewing the situation.

The government has suggested closure of all educational establishments (schools, colleges, universities etc.), gymnasiums, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres till March 31. The Centre has also written to all the Chief Secretaries to promote online education.

The Centre advised the states to explore the possibility of postponing exams. The ongoing exams will be conducted only after ensuring a physical distance of one metre between the students.

In this hour of need, the government has asked the private sector to allow employees to work from home wherever feasible.

“Meetings, as far as feasible, shall be done through video conferencing. Minimise or reschedule meetings involving large number of people unless necessary,” read a government statement.

While many continue to throng the eateries, the Centre has strongly urged restaurants to ensure handwashing protocol and proper cleanliness of frequently touched surfaces. “Ensure physical distancing (minimum one metre) between tables; encourage open air seating with adequate distancing,” said the advisory.

Those who have already planned a wedding are allowed to go ahead, but are requested to have a limited gathering. All non-essential social and cultural gatherings should be postponed, the advisory said.

Meanwhile, local authorities have been asked to have a dialogue with the organisers of sporting events involving large gatherings and urge them to postpone such events. With all the restrictions in place, the fate of the Indian Premier League (IPL) also hangs in the balance.

Local authorities have also been asked to have a dialogue with religious leaders to regulate mass gatherings and to ensure that no overcrowding takes place.

The government advisory asked the local authorities to have a meeting with traders” associations and other stakeholders to regulate working hours, exhibit Do”s and Don”ts and take up a communication drive in market places like sabzi mandi, anaj mandi, bus depots, railway stations and post-offices where essential services are provided.

“All commercial activities should maintain a distance of one metre between the customers. Measures should be taken to reduce peak hour crowding in markets,” the government said.

The advisory also urged people to avoid non-essential travels. “Buses, trains and aeroplanes should maximize social distancing besides ensuring regular and proper disinfection of the surfaces,” the government said.

Hospitals which are already dealing with coronavirus patients have been asked to follow necessary protocols related to Covid-19 management. Restricting family members, friends and children from visiting the patients is one of them.

Shaking hands and hugging continue to remain off the limit. The advisory also asked for special protective measures for delivery men and women working in online ordering services.

The number of positive coronavirus cases in the country rose to 114 on Monday.


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